Following the solid and effective strike action over the last couple of days, signallers in Scotland are to step up their action with further strikes and a UK-wide ballot.
RMT signallers and supervisory staff in Scotland will strike between noon next Friday (March 16) and Sunday (March 18), and again between noon on the following Monday (March 19) and Wednesday (March 21).
The UK-wide ballot will bring in 4,000 workers across the country. It's the obvious next step to take, and I still wonder why RMT confined this dispute to Scotland in the first place, since the issues (35-hour week and abuse of the Cognisco assessment system) exist all over the UK.
One further reason it makes sense to make this action UK-wide is that management's scabbing operation is UK-wide. They have reeled in managers from as far afield as the South East of England to put their inexperienced, inadequately-trained hands on the signal levers.
The union is rightly exposing the safety risks caused by management's tactics, for example in this press release. The potential disaster at Haymarket might possibly be connected to the rumour that Edinburgh IECC was worked by managers from England who had a spell training on the simulator, which only covers Waverley station, not the Haymarket area! Shocked and appalled we might be, but surprised we should not be - this happens in every strike. There are no Queensbury rules in the class struggle. Employers fight hard, and we have to fight hard right back at them.
Spoke to a signaller on the West side of the country. He tells me that he has heard nothing about being balloted over the 35 hour week. He thinks it may be the case that different Network Rail regions are interpreting and implimenting the national deal differently. He says that his area has got the 35 hour week deal the union agreed to but that he would obviously come out in support of other regions but he isn't sure about other signallers.
On Monday 12 March RMT regional organiser Phil McGarry said: "The issue that sparked the 48-hour industrial action that took place last week has now been resolved and we are making a recommendation that the action is suspended."
The final decision is due to be taken by the union's executive after it meets local officials on Wednesday.
We'll post reports of the settlement referred to by McGarry as soon as we have them.