Socialist Worker

Third Silverlink strike over pensions

by Jon Gamble
Issue No. 2077

Pickets at Watford (Pic: Jon Gamble)

Pickets at Watford (Pic: Jon Gamble)

Train drivers in the Aslef union working for Silverlink struck for the third time on Friday of last week in defence of their pension rights.

Silverlink lost its operating franchise last Sunday, although it has have so far avoided any department of transport penalties for not handing the franchise over in good order – in the middle of an industrial dispute.

Delegates from Watford TUC and the local RMT rail workers’ union secretary visited the picket.

One striker told Socialist Worker, “The action on Friday of last week was again strongly supported on the picket lines with yet more drivers attending. It proved to be 100 percent solid.

“The only trains ran by the company were, as in the previous two days of action, driven by Silverlink managers working 12 hour shifts. The driving they did on the first day of the dispute came after refreshing the route and traction for one day in 12 months, as is the standard for managers.

“This is less stringent than for drivers. Each manager is a former driver, some more recently than others but not one of them was still a driver less than a year ago.

“The Silverlink Metro managers attempted to forestall their part in the strike breaking activities of the company but were presented with disciplinary forms pre-written by the route director of Metro on the first day of the strike, which would have meant suspension and possible dismissal for each of them.

“These managers they insisted on working trains 'double-manned', therefore halving the number of trains they could drive.

“Before the action commenced Aslef offered Silverlink binding arbitration, which the company refused. Silverlink came back later and offered to fund a legal case for Aslef to challenge Silverlink in court. Aslef rightly declined, stating the dispute was industrial, not legal.

“Silverlink tried to score points with their press releases on the matter, yet didn't disclose that the amount they'd offerred to give in order to stop the strike was £25,000—barely enough to get into chambers, let alone through the high court.”

Strikes have been called off as London Overground and London Midland the companies that replaced Silverlink have agreed to talks.

Midland Mainline also saw its third day of action on Thursday of last week as Aslef members struck over pension rights. They are set to strike again on Thursday of this week.

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Article information

Tue 13 Nov 2007, 17:50 GMT
Issue No. 2077
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