Off The Rails's blog

Stalinist in-jokes won’t build a healthy union

The RMT Young Members Committee has designed a new badge. Nothing wrong with that. But the slogan on the badge, "Always vigilant", has a meaning that is less than edifying. While “vigilance committees” in the unions under the influence of the Communist Party of the 1920s are worthy of study, if not...

ScotRail guards to strike

ScotRail guards based at Glasgow Central station will strike every Sunday between 29 November and 3 January, in a dispute over bosses' abuse of disciplinary procedure.

The strikes are accompanied by a ban on overtime, rest day working, and higher grade working from 30 November to 2 January....

Mick Cash to retire: organise the rank and file!

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash has announced his retirement, only a year into his second term. The announcement was made during a chaotic Annual General Meeting, conducted online. Many delegates and union activists had criticised various aspects of AGM proceedings, including a decision by the union...

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...

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...

On Guard!

The latest issue of On Guard - a rank-and-file bulletin for rail workers in Sheffield - is online here.

Making equality more than a buzzword

This article, by rail worker Becky Crocker, was first published in the Solidarity newspaper, here.

In recent months I have become increasingly aware of the lack of diversity in my workplace, a Network Rail office in London.

My suspicions about Network Rail were confirmed when I read in its...

The conflict in RMT

  • RMT must address mental health issues and bullying allegations
  • External investigation needed, but union must change itself
  • Genuine debate, criticism, and accountability is essential, and is not bullying
  • For a union led by members, through our lay representatives, not by officers
  • The National...
  • Fight all job cuts!

    Workers at the International Currency Exchange in St. Pancras are facing job cuts, with nine members of staff having been given redundancy notices. RMT reps are supporting them, but Off the Rails was a little alarmed to read some of the language in the union circular about the campaign.


    Stonehaven tragedy: solidarity and condolences

    We send our solidarity and condolences to the family, friends, and workmates of the three people - two workers and one passenger - who died in the Stonehaven derailment on 12 August.

    Donald Dinnie and Bret McCullough, the guard and driver killed, were members of RMT and Aslef respectively. Both...

    How can we improve our union?

    Discussions amongst activists within RMT about the formation of new groupings aimed at transforming and improving the union are intensifying, against a backdrop of economic crisis and mounting attacks on RMT members' jobs, terms, and conditions.

    One new grouping has already been established, the...

    Stop the SSP job cuts!

    SSP Group the company that owns brands like Upper Crust and Cafe Ritazza as well as operating Burger Kings and over outlets in many stations is set to cut 5,000 jobs.

    The coming onslaught on jobs is going to affect the entire industry and not just the frontline rail operational staff.


    Halting the Job Cuts Express

    We know that job cuts are coming, thundering down the track towards us like a runaway freight train, loaded with attacks on our pay, conditions and pensions as well.

    Wabtec has already announced job cuts at its Doncaster site, Heathrow Express is threatening to cut over a hundred posts, and we...

    Defend Wabtec jobs!

    Bosses at the Wabtec rail refurbishment factory in Doncaster have announced a plan to cut 450 jobs in several waves, starting in August and running through to March 2021. The cuts would halve the workforce.

    The plans are now out for consultation, and responding should be quick and easy: not one...

    Are rules a good way to save lives?

    Network Rail has ten lifesaving rules. These are supposed to be rules for all staff to follow to keep them safe. They are the focus of Network Rail’s staff safety strategy:

    1. Always be sure the required plans and permits are in place before you start a job or go on or near the line.
    2. Always...

    Bullying bosses threaten cleaners at Paddington

    An image is circulating on social media of a notice handed to outsourced cleaners, employed by the contractor Interserve, at Paddington station.

    It insists that the toilets "always have an attendant in view", and accuses cleaners of "hiding in the room." How are cleaners meant to distance safely...

    RIP Belly Mujinga - keep frontline workers safe!

    We send our condolences and solidarity to the family, friends, and workmates of Belly Mujinga, a station worker from Victoria who has died of Covid-19, after being spat on at work by someone claiming to have the virus.

    This tragedy highlights the terrible risks to which frontline, public-facing...

    Resist reckless ramp up!

    It looks as though railway industry bosses will go for a unilateral ramping up of services from tomorrow, 11 May, despite no national agreement with our unions being in place to facilitate this.

    Unions had been negotiating towards an agreement, with a projected date of 18 May in mind for a...

    Mitie steals cleaners' wages

    Notoriously exploitative outsourcing contractor Mitie has robbed cleaners on Merseyrail of wages.

    Bosses have announced they're withdrawing from a recent agreement, due to be backdated to July 2019, to increase wages to £9/hour. This will leave cleaners £500 out of pocket and around £1,000 worse...

    Not all in it together: SSP lays off workers

    In another episode that proves we're not "all in it together" during the pandemic, and that bosses are definitely not suspending class struggle from their side, Select Service Partners (the agency that provides workers for fast food and coffee concessions, and some other shops, at train stations)...

    No class peace in the crisis

    A “joint statement”, published in the name of the Department for Transport (DfT), eight individual unions organising in the transport sector, and the TUC, has appeared online.

    It reports the “first in a series of Ministerial calls” between the DfT and transport unions, and ends with an...

    Greater Anglia Goes on the Attack

    Greater Anglia management are systematically naffing off pretty much everyone who works for them.

    The company has imposed new rosters for RPIs where everyone works alone all the time.

    It has imposed a roster for train despatchers at Liverpool Street which breaks up the previous practice of...

    Northern: keep it public, fight for democratic ownership!

    On 29 January, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced what many had been expecting sooner or later since May 2018, that Arriva Rail North will be stripped of the Northern Railway franchise and that it will be taken into public ownership and run by the government's Operator of Last Resort....

    Rail Gourmet workers at Paddington strike again

    Catering workers employed by Rail Gourmet at Paddington station, in West London, struck again on 30-31 January. The workers had previously struck on 10 January, in their fight for fair rostering practises and proper payment of allowances and bonuses.

    Rail Gourmet is part of Select Service...

    Unsafe? Down tools!

    What do you do if you've had enough of abuse and assault, and if your employer doesn't seem to give a monkey's? You stop working, that's what.

    When the destination boards went down at Manchester Victoria, and control were not passing on any information to platform staff about which train was...

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