Off the Rails Summer-Autumn 2013

Royal Baby 1894: Up the Republic!

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:25

In 1894, Keir Hardie (a proper Labour MP), delivered a speech in Parliament during a special session given over for MPs to give messages of congratulations to the Royal Family on the birth of the prince who would grow up to become King Edward VIII. We think his words ring very true today…

“We are asked to rejoice because this child has been born, and that one day he will be called upon to rule over this great Empire. Up to the present time we have no means of knowing what his qualifications or fitness for that task may be. It certainly strikes me – I do not know how it strikes others – as

Labour and Tories: two cheeks of the same arse?

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:24

Recently the Tories drew level with Labour in opinion polls for the first time in 18 months due to the UK Independence Party's national vote collapse.

The probability of a second Tory government is increasing. The Tories want to cut our industry to the bone. But what would Labour do with it? Would a Labour government be any better? How can workers in our industry and across society have a say in politics as the major parties gear up for the next General Election?

The Tories have wholeheartedly endorsed the McNulty report, which recommends sorting out the problems caused by privatisation with

No job cuts on London Overground!

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:17

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

The immediate impulse for cut is a 12.5% cut in central government funding for Transport for London, announced in George Osborne’s 26 June spending review. Moving towards DOO is also key recommendation of the McNulty Review into railway industry reform.

LOROL wants to implement DOO by December 2013, and, according to rail union RMT, plan to begin the process even if the new staffing arrangement has not been safety-certified.

A union

Democratise our unions!

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:12

The RMT is currently conducting a root-and-branch review of its internal structures. This means RMT members have a chance to say how they think their union should be organised.

Off The Rails has a charter called “The Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers”, which sets out our ideal vision for how unions should operate. The FURTW would be a union led from the workplace up, where members were engaged in deciding strategy and industrial action were controlled by those involved in them. It would also be an industrial union.

You can read the charter here. The RMT’s review is a chance to make

Assessing the East Midlands Trains pensions fight

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:09

In the aftermath of the pension dispute some rank-and-file train driver members of ASLEF at Nottingham attempted to call the leadership to account over their undemocratic actions in settling the dispute against the clearly stated wishes of the membership.

This primarily consisted of seeking written explanation from the EC. With hindsight this was never going to be enough, they ignored our last letter for example. When they deigned to respond the answers we received included this timeless excuse for bureaucratic abuse of power: “In the middle of protracted and difficult negotiations it is not

South West Trains in the heatwave

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:04

In the recent scorching temperatures South West Trains staff have often had to work out in the open in full uniform.

Guards can be required to work on trains without air conditioning for 5 hours or more without a break. Management judge whether its hot enough to allow employees to take their ties off, and woe betide you if you decide to do so without permission. So who is it that can tell when you're getting too hot? Not you, that's for certain.The heat is also highlighting the poor condition of the Wessex route in general. First 20mph speed restrictions were instituted in numerous places to

East Midlands trains dispute

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:57

The 2 to 1 result in the ballot for action short of strike on East Midland Trains by on-train and platform staff is a welcome reversal of previous failures to respond to management attacks.

The dispute is due to a breakdown in industrial relations which covers several issues. One of these was rostering during the shutdown of Nottingham station for 5 weeks worth of long time planned engineering work.

A few days before the start of the work bosses tried to impose an emergency roster on a lot of staff claiming it was part of their T&Cs. It isn't: but maintaining that position is a desparate

Justice for the 33!

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:55

Agency workers staffed the north of the Bakerloo Line and the south of the District Line since London Underground took over from Silverlink in 2007.

Wearing LU uniforms without earning LU wages, agency workers delivered outstanding customer service on flexible terms that suited LU’s needs. When short of staff, LU phoned the agency, which got an agency worker to keep a station running at the drop of a hat: the kind of flexible staffing solution that LU would like to replicate everywhere.

Agency workers dealt with persons under a train, but were told to pay for counselling out of their own

Marxism at work: no to immigration controls!

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:52

Right-wing media and politicians are whipping up a storm of fear over immigration. If we believe them, immigration is to blame for unemployment, housing shortages and low wages.

The Home Office even has a van driving round telling “illegal” immigrants to “go home or face arrest”.

Workers need to see through the lies peddled by the ruling class. Division based on nationality and immigration status only benefits our bosses.

“Within a year”, says a typical scaremongering Ukip leaflet, “29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will gain the right to live, work and draw benefits here”. Off the Rails

Domestic violence is a union issue

Published on: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:49

Every week, two women are killed by their partner or ex partner.

Many thousands more (and a smaller number of men) are victims of domestic violence. This is NOT an issue to be dealt with behind closed doors. It affects people at work and we need to take it up as a workplace issue.

Being a victim of domestic violence can affect how well you do your job, your timekeeping, your physical and mental well-being. But on a more positive note, going to work can be your means of escape, your opportunity to find support.

Transport workers are subjected to an alarming level of assault at work, often

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