Off The Rails Winter 2008/09

Stop These Job Cuts

National Express East Anglia – 242 jobs to go, 61 vacancies frozen, including 3 drivers, 11 cleaners, 44 caterers, 53 retail staff, 19 Stansted Express train crew, 7 workshop engineering staff , 73 call centre staff, 4 revenue-protection staff, 29 support staff

South Eastern Trains – 300 jobs to go

South West Trains – 660+ jobs to go, including platform, information, clerical and cleaning staff Nearly 100 ticket office jobs to go, despite government orders to reduce planned opening times cuts

First ScotRail - 40 jobs to go

National Express workers: Missing GNER?

National Express, Britain’s second largest transport company, took over from GNER in running the East coast mainline in December 2007. A year on, some people are nostalgic: “Everybody is wishing for GNER back again - the staff and the customers”.

EWS/DB Schenker

In December, EWS announced plans to cut 15% of its workforce, across all grades. EWS - recently taken over by German state-owned railway company DeutscheBahn and renamed DB Schenker - is to shed 530 jobs.

It is placing many workers on ‘zero-hours’ contracts, an appalling set-up under which you are available for work from 7am to 7pm (or 7pm to 7am), but get paid just £5 for having your phone on and wages only if you are actually called in to work.

Arriva Trains Wales

All grades in Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) have been battling over pay in recent months, and have taken both official and unoffical strike action. ATW has two separate pay rounds, and the anniversary dates were 1 July for drivers and 1 April for other grades.

Last September, TSSA took official strike action in the Driver Manager grade. RMT and ASLEF members respected picket lines and took unofficial solidarity action.

Fighting the Sickness Bullies

At Glasgow Central depot, Virgin Trains have abused the MFA policy so badly that RMT onboard members have voted for strikes (23 votes to 10) and industrial action short of strikes (28-5). Managers have called people in to meetings at very short notice, and created a climate of fear about asking for union representation.

RMT first balloted in December, getting a big Yes vote, but fell foul of the anti-union laws - or made a cock-up, whichever way you prefer to look at it. Following a second vote for action, we now await the union’s decision on what action to take.

RMT: Changing Rules, Improving Democracy

Off The Rails is promoting several rule changes in RMT this year. These need to be submitted to the union’s AGM by at least eight branches, so if you agree with them, please propose them at yours.



At present, you have to be an RMT member for five years before you are allowed to be nominated as a delegate! We believe that this excludes young people and fresh ideas, and should be cut to two years.

Clause 19: delete ‘five’, insert ‘two’.


Who Speaks for Workers?

120 people attended the RMT-organised meeting to discuss the 'crisis in working-class political representation’ in January. The meeting agreed unanimously that workers need a new political voice, but could not agree on when or how we might create one.

Round Up

130 RMT and TSSA members in retail grades on C2C were to strike to demand 28 days’ annual leave from their tight-fisted employer. C2C gives only 22 days’ leave and pays staff only for public holidays that they work.

However, despite the overwhelming votes for action, the two unions called off planned strikes for a promise by management of more talks.

Off The Rails has long argued that calling action just for talks is a bad idea - unions can talk and strike at the same time, and should really only consider suspending action if the talks are about an improved offer.

Marxism at Work - Sickness Absence Policies: Symptoms of a Sick System

‘Capital takes no account of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless society forces it to do so. Its answer to the outcry about the physical and moral degradation, the premature deaths, the torture of over-work, is this: should this pain trouble us as it increases our pleasure (profit)?’
Karl Marx, Capital volume 1

The clampdown on sickness absence across our industry tells us a lot about how the capitalist system works.


Stop Israel's War on the Palestinians

Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza in December and January left over 1,000 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of children.

We can not support Hamas, the Islamist party elected to govern Gaza, which has suppressed strikes, discriminates against women, condemns homosexuality and whose Charter advocates killing Jews. But opposing Hamas does not justify Israel’s military action. Israel must end its occupation and siege of Palestinian territories.

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