Rail unions

Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers

What kind of union do we need? There are strengths and weaknesses in our current union set-up. Union officials will often have you believe that things can only be done the way they are done, because ... well, because they have always been done that way. We do not agree. We have several criticisms of the existing rail unions, so it is only fair that we set out in more positive terms what our ideal union might look like. Let's call it the Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers (FURT). Some of the good things about this fantasy union could be put in place by changes in rules and ways of...

How transport workers beat the colour bar

This story of colour bars in the UK railway and bus industries begins after the Second World War, when Britain had a labour shortage and people moved to Britain in increasing numbers from Caribbean countries and elsewhere. The National Union of Railwaymen (NUR, predecessor of the RMT) declared in 1948 that: “we have no objection to the employment of coloured men in the railway industry” and that “coloured men had been satisfactorily employed on the railways over a long period”. But although the top of the union was getting it right, in some areas the grassroots was not. In 1950, white workers...

The Story of Colour Bars on the UK Railway

Speaking at our online meeting in September, Janine Booth tells the story of the period after the end of the Second World War when black people came to Britain but met opposition from some white workers, until the 'colour bar' was defeated in 1966.

Strike Wakes Up Sleeper Bosses

Readers might (or might not) remember the old 'pantries' on the Caledonian Sleeper. Staff used these to get some downtime during the night - not even a kip, just a sitdown, a break.

When the company refurbished the sleeper, the company assured staff were assured that there would still be areas...

Offshore energy and “just transition”

The environmental campaign groups Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Greenpeace have jointly published a report surveying oil and gas workers’ views about their working conditions, and the future of their industry in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.

RMT CFDU group launches

A group of activists in the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT) has launched a “Campaign for a Fighting, Democratic Union” (CFDU), which “fights for rank-and-file democracy and militant industrial strategies.” The CFDU name has been used by a number of previous similar initiatives in the union. This latest initiative has been launched in response to a burgeoning democratic crisis inside the union, which has seen General Secretary Mick Cash use official union communication channels to attack the lay National Executive Committee, and then refuse to carry out his...

Report from Inverness Sleeper picket

Despite the horrific weather conditions, there was a great turnout on the picket line at Inverness last night to stand with striking Caledonian Sleeper staff.

Placards and leaflets publicised the case for the strike, and tea, coffee and chips kept spirits up. Special thanks to the GMB union for...

Rail workers say: Black Lives Matter!

Off The Rails supports the global protests against police brutality and racism.

The issues raised by the protests are not just problems in the USA. They affect us too. Britain has its own history of police violence against people of colour, with campaigns like the United Families and Friends...

Video: Rail workers discuss fighting job cuts

RMT activists Janine Booth and John Pencott offer their views on fighting the wave of job cuts that face the rail industry. These were the opening remarks at an online meeting held on 16 July 2020, hosted by Tubeworker and Off The Rails, bulletins written by and for Tube and rail workers respectively and published by Workers' Liberty. Audio and video.

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