Off The Rails's blog

Northern: stand firm against DOO! Off The Rails Thu, 28/11/2019 - 09:36

On 26 November RMT announced that Northern Rail guards had voted "nearly 95%" in a ballot to approve further negotiations on "changes to the operational mode" to implement the promise made by Arriva Rail North via ACAS in February 2019 of a "conductor on every train... for the remainder of the franchise".

An open letter to fellow South Western Railway guards: don't give in to bosses' bullying! Off The Rails Tue, 26/11/2019 - 18:12

There's been uproar on South Western Railway (SWR) today, as workers received a threatening letter from bosses, attempting to intimidate them out of striking.

DOO resisted on Merseyrail, but the fight isn't over Off The Rails Wed, 16/10/2019 - 20:15

RMT is announcing a "major breakthrough" on Merseyrail, after negotiations produced a new offer including a method of train dispatch which retains control of the doors for the guard, in line with RMT policy.

The union says the "fine detail" still needs working out, but the fact that it has suspended the strikes it planned for every Saturday through November and December is a pretty conclusive signal that the RMT NEC believes the dispute is now reaching its endgame.

Northern: New Deal for Drivers Hits the Buffers Off The Rails Wed, 09/10/2019 - 17:02

Rumours reach us that Northern's unpopular New Deal for Drivers (NDfD) is dead. We hope that's true. Time for the Northern drivers' Company Council to get into pay talks, reject the derisory 2.75% offer that the other unions look set to knock back and rejoin the collective bargaining process to help win a better offer via dispute. ASLEF can get better pay for its members the right way, by working with the other unions to win a better settlement. Now is the time to have the pay dispute that we should have followed through in 2014/15.

Action for Accessibility - not Victimisations! Off The Rails Tue, 08/10/2019 - 20:44

The railway system is notoriously and shamefully inaccessible to disabled passengers. And while painfully slow progress is made with physical accessibility, the employers' cuts to staffing make it harder for us to help disabled passengers. Moreover, the companies provide precious little training for staff, in particular in the less familiar needs of disabled passengers who might, for example, have neurological conditions, chronic health problems, or sensory issues.

Northern guards: put the action back on!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 22:39

Word has it that Northern Rail management have come up with a spiffing new idea for undermining the role of guard, and seem to think that we may be daft enough not to see through it.

It goes like this. The train pulls in to the station. The driver opens the doors. The guards steps onto the platform. When the PTI is clear, the guard presses the buzzer to tell the driver that it is safe to close the doors. The driver closes the doors.

Public Ownership Not 'Regional Control'! Off The Rails Wed, 18/09/2019 - 11:01

Be careful Boris Johnson, you almost sound like you're advocating the public ownership of Britain's railways. The PM's policy announcement at the weekend was focused on giving more power to Mayors in the North of England to make decisions about how local railways are operated. Boris said, 'I want communities to take control'. He said this might mean, 'transferring local branch line and rural services to community rail partnerships, owned by local people.”

Northern: ASLEF Reps Carry On Capitulating Off The Rails Tue, 17/09/2019 - 18:39

Another Rest Day Working extension expires at Northern, and yet another one is granted until 28th December.

What the hell are ASLEF playing at? They have the employer over a barrel, absolutely desperate to get all Drivers through training on the new 331 and 195 units in time for them to be introduced more widely with the December timetable change. But once again our ‘union’ has let a contender for the title of Worst Rail Operator Ever off the hook for no reason any of its members can fathom.

Stay on guard in SWR dispute! Off The Rails Mon, 02/09/2019 - 12:49

Congratulations to RMT members on South Western Railway who have taken strike action again this weekend to defend the role of the guard.

At the start of 2019 it looked like strike action was reaping rewards when South Western Railway said that they would guarantee a second safety critical person on each train. RMT suspended strike action to allow talks to progress. But without the pressure of strikes, progress stalled; after a few months, the guards were back on strike.

Merseyrail strikes off, but SWR strikes go ahead

Submitted by Off The Rails on Thu, 29/08/2019 - 22:02

Guards on South Western Railway are striking again from 30 August – 2 September, as their fight against the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO) goes on. Company figures expected that 40% of services would be cancelled on Friday 30 August and Monday 2 September, with up to 50% of services cancelled at the weekend. Union activists believe these figures could be conservative.

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.

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