Off The Rails Spring 2007

Central Trains: Fight Crewplan!

Guards on Central Trains are continuing their campaign against the imposition of a computerised rostering system called Crewplan.

The dispute began over Christmas when RMT held 3 strike days, which called for improved holiday working payments as well as protesting about Crewplan. The strikes were solid, showing management that we were serious about the fight.

The company made a reasonable offer on holiday payments, but tied acceptance to dropping our case against Crewplan - so RMT could not agree.

Watch Out - Fascists About!

You may remember last year Off The Rails reported on the setting up of ‘Solidarity’, a union for “patriotic and nationalist British workers” run by well-known BNPers. It held its first annual meeting at an undisclosed London venue on 24th February.

Network Rail Signallers

RMT is set to call Scottish Network Rail signallers out on strike; we should all support them. Signallers voted 70%:30%, on a 63% turnout, to strike, angry at management's delays in agreeing the new 35-hour week rosters and refusal to allow them to bank the extra hours into six extra rest days a year - and at managers’ abuses of the Cognisco system.

A View From A Young Worker

Welcome to life working on the railway. Goodbye social life!

Working in a station surrounded by buzzing nightlife means the life you are missing out on stares you in the face: a constant reminder that while you are working, others are having fun. Your free time rarely coincides with others', so you are less able to use your time off effectively.

Railway Cleaners Fight Back

Historically, cleaning was a core railway function, with many railworkers carrying out cleaning duties alongside other work, and all cleaners in a railway union. But since contracting-out and privatisation, union membership levels have dropped, and vile, predatory multinational companies have moved in, recruited vulnerable migrant workers and kept them on minimal pay, minimal holiday entitlement and the worst conditions they can get away with.

It's not a 'man's job' ... it's my job!

"Sometimes, you feel like you're on trial for the entire female sex. If a bloke makes a mistake, it's 'Fred's having a bad day', but if I do, it's 'Women can't do the job'."

"I really enjoy my job, and I don't complain very often. But when I had just one little grumble, a male colleague told me that if women don't like it working on the railway, we can always leave."

"Lots of women feel that we have to work that much harder to prove ourselves."

Time to Re-affiliate to Labour

With John McDonnell standing to be Labour leader, trade unionists have a duty to join him in his fight. It is senseless to let an opportunity to upset the Blairites' control of the party machine go by without at least trying to wrest control from them.


RMT has disaffiliated from the Scottish Socialist Party, by request of its Scottish regional council. This follows Tommy Sheridan's split from the SSP, after he prioritised his personal reputation over the party and the socialist cause with disastrous results. If he had shrugged off the News Of The World's scandal-mongering, we might still have a united SSP making progress in Scotland, and RMT still affiliated.

Defend Section 12

The fire regulations for sub-surface stations (enacted under Section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971) came from the Fennell report into the King’s Cross Fire. New rules helped to ensure the safety of our passengers, staff and emergency services.

This is often presented as just being about London Underground, but it is not. There are other metro systems in Britain - in Glasgow, Merseyside and Tyneside - and there are mainline stations which also qualify as 'sub-surface', such as Birmingham New Street.

Marxism at Work: Overtime

Lots of workers do overtime to supplement low wages. But while you might feel the need to do this to get by, the system of overtime itself helps the bosses keep your wages down.

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