Off the Rails Spring/Summer 2015

New bulletin for East Midlands Trains workers launched

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 01:01

Off The Rails supporters working for East Midlands Trains recently launched Nottingham Railworker, a new monthly bulletin for EMT workers. Here, we print some extracts from the first issue:

We all make mistakes, the important thing is how we react to them. On that score then it would appear that EMT has failed dismally.

After a 158 entered service in early February with a dangerous defect you might have expected an immediate inspection of the fleet to check that other units weren’t suffering from the same problem. Railworker believes that didn’t happen with key staff being left in the

Stop Press: DBS job cuts

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:56

DB Schenker management have apparently announced depot closures and potential redundancies of 118 drivers and other staff.

This looks to have been precipitated by the sudden drop in business moving coal to the UK's many coal-fired power stations.

If there is less work, there should simply be more time off. Once again, we see the need to bring the railway back into public ownership - DBS workers should not be in a more precarious position than TOC employees just because of market forces. Is there no room for a fight to keep these workers in their jobs, keep the depots open and find other work

Marxism At Work: Shift Work Explained

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:50

Our bodies have evolved so that we're awake by day and asleep at night. The brain’s ‘circadian clock’ monitors light levels and releases a chemical, melatonin, to prompt us to sleep when it’s dark; it releases other chemicals that keep us awake during the day.

This gives our bodies their 'circadian rhythm', which affects temperature, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.

In the rail industry, many of us work shifts: outside regular 9 to 5 hours, especially nights, early starts and late finishes. In doing this, we're defying our natural rhythm and incurring the risk of health

Regroup and fight back!

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:45

The election of a Tory government is a big blow for railworkers, and all working-class people. Here are five fronts we'll have to fight on in the next five years, and beyond...

Take on the anti-strike laws

The Tories were just elected into government by just 24% of the electorate (36% of those who voted), yet they want to change the law so over 50% of us have to vote yes before a strike can be considered legal.

This is a serious threat: it is important that we defend ourselves against it and refuse to be cowed by it.

A good start would be for all the rail unions to engage us in

Solidarity with Ukrainian workers

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:26

The recent ASLEF Annual Assembly of Delegates (AAD) voted to affiliate to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, a network which raises awareness and builds support for the efforts of independent unions in Ukraine to struggle for workers' rights against both Western and Russian imperialism, as well as domestic Ukrainian oligarchs and capitalists.

RMT AGM will also vote on a motion to affiliate to the campaign. Here, we reprint an address to ASLEF from the leader of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Free Trade

Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader!

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:23

Socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn has made it onto the ballot for the Labour leadership election.
Jeremy is a member of the RMT’s Parliamentary Group, and has been a consistent supporter of rail workers’ struggles.

All rail unions must throw their weight behind his campaign, as the only consistently pro-union and pro-rail-renationalisation candidate in the election. Our representatives on Labour Party committees must back Corbyn’s campaign.

His candidacy is an excellent opportunity to discuss how to refound genuine working-class political representation in a context in which the Labour Party is

A lesson from across the Channel

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:19

Since the beginning of the year, there has been an increasing number of assaults on customer service staff in the Lyon area. This is due to low staff numbers, both on board trains and at stations.

On 6 February, at around 7pm, a worker on a commuter train confronted three young passengers (who were drinking, and smoking cannabis) who were harassing others passengers. They did this at the request of other passengers, and were helped by another off-duty railway worker.

In response, the young passengers attacked the workers. One had a glass bottle smashed in his face, and the other had a

Northern Rail: crap traction

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:14

Northern Rail is famous for its crap traction. The state of its rolling stock has been the subject of much comment in this publication, the national press, industry publications, social media and communications from the rail unions.

Off The Rails readers will probably be aware that the next Northern franchise is one of the likely destinations for the 'new' DEMUs currently being developed by the chancers at Vivarail.

These units will actually be re-furbished ex-District Line trains, retired from service on the Tube because they are outdated and not up to scratch safety-wise. In its

Network Rail: reject the deal!

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:10

As Off The Rails went to press, RMT members on Network Rail were balloting on whether to accept the company’s latest pay offer.

Strikes, involving RMT and TSSA, were initially planned for 24-25 May, but both unions suspended the strikes after Network Rail made a revised pay offer.

Consultation with reps and members in RMT returned overwhelming opposition to the new deal, and the union named new strike dates, for 4-5 and 9-11 June.

The company’s second improved offer involved a 2% increase in year one, RPI in year two, and some very ambiguous language about whether the pay increase would

London Underground: unions unite?

Published on: Wed, 17/06/2015 - 00:07

In an unprecedented show of unity, all four Tube unions (RMT, ASLEF, TSSA, and Unite) have declared disputes with London Underground over the 2015 pay settlement and the implementation of “Night Tube” (24-hour running). Ballots are due back around 30 June, with the potential for a joint strike.

LU has offered a 0.75% pay increase (meagre compared to the 2%+ figures won on DLR, Network Rail, Southern, and elsewhere), and wants to impose “Night Tube” without proper consultation and agreements.

RMT is concurrently reballoting station staff for further action in the dispute against job cuts,

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