In our workplaces, employers have ratcheted up persecution of workers. Their mechanisms include: ever-harsher sickness absence policies; petty discipline clampdowns; de-staffing and increased workload; 'performance management' and numerous hard-to-achieve targets; constant pressure and micro-management; and both direct and indirect harassment and discrimination.
Along with issues such as pay, hours and pensions, this is a major issue for workers.
This is the result of employers' relentless drive to increase exploitation of workers, which intensifies during times of recession. But it is more than just short-term money-saving. Disciplinary dismissals cost employers money when they have to recruit and train replacements, and studies have shown that harsh sickness absence policies do not actually save employers money. We can therefore conclude that these policies have another purpose too: to emphasise the master-slave relationship between boss and worker; to demoralise workers and assert managers' control.
Often, we and our workmates just respond to this in an individual way, perhaps accepting it or maybe raising an individual protest. With good trade union organisation, our individual objection are strengthened and we can collectivise the issue.
But we need more than this. We need a national, cross-industry, rank-and-file-led campaign to resist management bullying. As rail workers, we need to link up with each other, and also with other workers in the transport sector and beyond.
Talk to teachers, healthworkers, posties, or workers in shops and factories, and you will find that they all have stories to tell of management’s clampdown tactics and they would all welcome co-ordinated action to stop it.
Activists in various sectors are already talking about such a campaign. If you would like to get involved, please contact Off The Rails.