Over 700 workers at DB Schenker (formerly EWS), Britain’s biggest rail freight company, are to ballot from Wednesday of this week for strikes over jobs, pay and conditions.
The RMT transport union is campaigning for a strong yes vote for action, after management announced 530 jobs are to go, including 100 at the company’s headquarters in Doncaster.
Management are also trying to impose a pay freeze and zero-hour contracts that will effectively casualise the workforce.
Parent company Deutsche Bahn was recently forced to apologise to employees after it was revealed that the company had secretly carried out mass surveillance of the bank accounts of 173,000 members of staff in 2002-3 and 2005.
The company says that freight is being badly hit by the recession, yet it obviously thinks there is money to be made here and is expanding its freight interests.
Only last month it bought the biggest freight company in Poland. It is also bidding to run the Metro in Newcastle.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow has argued that if the company is in trouble it should be nationalised.
He points out that transferring freight from roads to the rail is an important contribution to protecting the environment.
The strike ballot closes on 25 February.