Off The Rails's blog

EMT strikes continue

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:47

Striking guards at East Midlands Trains, soon to be East Midlands Railway, will be striking for a 3rd successive Saturday tomorrow. The past two actions have been well supported; EMT can only operate a much reduced service by drafting in its own and other companies’ managers to operate the train doors and perform platform duties.

Two workmates die in South Wales: Why is track working not safe?

Submitted by Off The Rails on Sat, 13/07/2019 - 23:34

The deaths of two track workers near Port Talbot on 3 July was a tragedy that could possibly have been avoided.  Initial reports are that the two workers were using loud equipment and relying on a touch lookout – someone who would tap them to warn them of approaching trains. Exactly why that didn’t happen is not likely to be clear for several months until the Rail Accident Investigation Board publish their report.  Some of the lessons to be learned are probably ones that could have been learnt already though.

Condolences and solidarity: track workers killed by train

Submitted by Off The Rails on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 11:31

Here at Off The Rails, we are deeply distressed at the news that two rail workers have died after being hit by a train between Bridgend and Port Talbot. We send our very best wishes to the third worker who was struck by the train, and our condolences and solidarity to the loved ones and workmates of all three.

The RAIB has already opened its investigation. We need answers as to why, in the high-tech twenty-first century, the railway is still such a dangerous industry to work in.

Northern Rail drivers: Vote No to the 'New Deal'!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Tue, 25/06/2019 - 22:19

In the ASLEF rulebook, rule 2 (a) states: "ASLEF is a registered trade union, it is part of the Labour and Trade Union Movement...". Rules 3.1 (VIII and XII) commit the union to assist in the furtherance of the labour movement towards a socialist society, and recognise that trade unionism is international and that the union should pursue solidarity with workers globally. Rule 3.3 provides for ASLEF aiding or joining with other organisations that have "within their objects the promotion of the interests of workers".

New SWR strikes up the ante

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 31/05/2019 - 15:27

RMT has upped the ante in the dispute against DOO on South Western Railway, by announcing a five-day strike from 18-22 June.

Despite winning what appeared to be a "guard guarantee" in February via previous strikes, SWR bosses have dithered and have failed to implement an agreement to retain guards' jobs. Naming new strikes is absolutely the right thing to do, and it's absolutely right to go big. Incidental one-day strikes won't get the goods: sustained action might.

Ticket Offices saved!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Sat, 20/04/2019 - 14:45
Campaigners at Hackney Downs station

Great news this week as Transport for London has backed down on plans to close London Overground ticket offices.

This follows an active campaign by RMT, and by local Labour Party branches in the areas affected. Reps and activists handed out thousands of leaflets, travelled round the various stations affected and made themselves seen and heard. They made the case that ticket offices are essential for people to safely access the network and for protecting jobs.

The Sound of Silence

Submitted by Off The Rails on Tue, 16/04/2019 - 22:14

Ever since RMT announced its positive-sounding deals with various Train Operating Companies (TOCs), Off The Rails has argued that it is essential that the union keep members informed of what is going on in talks. We have also reported the frustration of members in the various companies involved that they are not getting reports from talks.

Paddington Aslef says: love socialism, hate Brexit

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 12/04/2019 - 11:46

Paddington Aslef branch, organising Great Western Railway drivers, has passed the following motion on Brexit:

Paddington Branch notes that since the UK voted to leave the European Union, none of the promises made by the Leave Campaign have been delivered. Rather than having £350 million a week to spend on the NHS, the economy has shrunk by £60bn and we have a shortage of 51,000 nurses.

Merseyrail: no backing down

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 05/04/2019 - 21:24

Merseyrail still seem intent on making a deal that robs one group of workers to pay another, by cutting cleaners' jobs to retain guards' jobs. A second deal of this type was rejected by the RMT National Executive today (5 April). The deal also wanted to shift some door control functions to the driver.

How guards keep trains safe

Submitted by Off The Rails on Thu, 28/03/2019 - 23:35

A recently published Rail Accident Investigation Board report has again highlighted the important safety function played by the Guard. On 2nd March 2018 trains on the Kent suburban lines running through Lewisham ground to a halt in the icy conditions caused by the “Beast from the East”. One train was left unable to draw into Lewisham station, with the platform about 10 metres ahead of the front of the train. After an hour, with no food or drink or toilet facilities, passengers started to get out onto the track out of desperation.

Another win for rail workers

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 18/02/2019 - 22:05
South Western Railway

Workers on South Western Railway (SWR) have struck another huge blow against Driver Only Operation, winning an agreement that a safety-critical guard will be retained on all SWR services.

Guards in the RMT had recently returned a resounding 84% majority in favour of further strikes, in a re-ballot forced on them by the restrictions of the anti-union laws. RMT had planned a strike for 22 February, but has now suspended this following SWR’s offer.

Will Northern try to buy off drivers to undermine guards' victory?

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 23:28
Northern rolling stock

The breakthrough in the anti-DOO dispute is a cause for celebration, but some caution must also be exercised. No formal settlement has yet been reached, and the "other stakeholders" referred to in Acas chair Brendan Barber's letter to RMT General Secretary Mick Cash must be drivers' union Aslef.

Aslef has past form selling out RMT members as well as its own members in the big DOO dispute with GTR Southern in 2016/17. In addition, Aslef reps on the Northern Company Council has been acting to aid the company in pushing forward its DOO agenda.

After Northern victory: don't let the bosses divide us!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 23:17
"In unity is strength" graphic

Off the Rails has been covering the recent developments in RMT's dispute with Arriva Rail North, operators of Northern Railway over the company's plan to introduce Driver Only Operation.

In a letter from Acas chair Brendan Barber, RMT were informed that the company and Department for Transport were now willing to agree to a "Conductor on every train... ...for the remainder of the franchise". The letter invited the union to talks with the company and "other stakeholders" to discuss any necessary "changes to the operational mode".

Northern workers win!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 23:09
Northern guards on a picket line

After nearly 50 days of strikes, Northern guards have forced their employer, Arriva Rail North (ARN), to scrap a plan to impose "Driver Only Operation" (DOO). ARN has instead committed to maintain a conductor on every Northern train, including on services using new or newly modified rolling stock.

Govia Thameslink Railway: a view from the frontline

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 21/01/2019 - 19:12

The DOO strikes on Southern have been over for a while now. The next big battle will be over proposed cuts to platform dispatch jobs, which are likely to be targeted on Brighton mainline stations. Lots of managers have been trained as "contingency" dispatch staff in the event of a strike. But as always the issue will be what Aslef drivers will do.

Rail workers’ picket line attacked by far right

Submitted by Off The Rails on Sun, 06/01/2019 - 17:04

On 5 January an RMT picket line of striking Northern guards in Manchester was attacked by far-right thugs connected to the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and the rump English Defence League. It seems the attack may have been an opportunistic action by far-right activists mobilised for a demo of their own taking place in Manchester on the same day.

An Asian striker was specifically targeted, and was called a “nonce”, “child groomer”, and “paedophile”.

Drivers: don't sell your conditions!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Thu, 20/12/2018 - 18:04
A joint Aslef-RMT protest.

Rumours reach us that certain TOCs may be preparing offers to their drivers, via Aslef, aimed at heading off the possibility of united action against DOO.

These offers may include the promise of a substantial pay rise, in exchange for effectively selling conditions: that means concessions on DOO, and also potentially on other issues like the working week, with TOCs possibly moving to include Sundays in rosters.

An open letter to fellow ASLEF drivers: which side are we on?

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 19/01/2018 - 10:56
DOO strike

To download the article below as an A4 bulletin, click here.


“It has long been the tradition in ASLEF to respect picket lines whether they are our own or those of fellow trade unionists.” - ASLEF  members’ diary

TIME TO MAKE THIS A REALITY!

Dear Driver,

I am writing to you, as a fellow ASLEF driver, because I want to persuade you that we need to change how we approach the current RMT disputes over DOO/DCO.

Aslef sells out on Southern: fight against DOO must go on

Submitted by Off The Rails on Wed, 08/11/2017 - 19:32

As guards, and RMT drivers, at five Train Operating Companies (TOCs) strike again on 8-9 November to resist the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO), rail workers have received the demoralising news that Aslef members on Southern have voted by 79.1% to accept a deal that will see Aslef retreat from the dispute and accept a settlement introducing a limited form of DOO on certain services.

'Third Party' Tyranny Against Catering Staff

Submitted by Off The Rails on Sun, 23/07/2017 - 11:18

Call to support and stamp out unacceptable working conditions for our members who are facing the tyranny of their scabby employers but the might of TOCs and their contractual arrangements with their suppliers.

Over two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a RMT reps course at Doncaster. What struck me was how, on the whole, the working conditions of the other course members differed to the members I represent - onboard catering hosts working for a contractor.

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