Socialist Worker

Network Rail workers reballoting for strike action

Issue No. 2196

The court decision to grant an injunction against the RMT has increased union activists’ determination to win their battle with Network Rail.

Thousands of maintenance workers in the RMT and TSSA unions were to strike for four days this week against the axing of 1,500 safety-critical jobs.

And signal workers were to strike for four hours on each of the days against the imposition of new work schedules.

The union called off the action after bosses won a court injunction, but is reballoting.

RMT maintenance workers had voted overwhelmingly for strikes, while those in the TSSA and the signal workers narrowly voted in favour.

Workers are angry at the ruling against their democratic vote. “We are all the more resolved to win this dispute,” said Steve Richards, the RMT branch secretary in Newport.

“This is a delaying tactic so that management have more time to prepare their strikebreaking plans.

“At the same time as they were sitting at the negotiating table with the RMT, bosses were running to the courts.

“We need to face up to these threats and intimidation. People are very upset with the right wing media’s stories about us.

“Members have told me the decision has only increased their resolve.”

Management’s behaviour has also created resentment. The company told staff it would not pay anyone who struck for four hours and then clocked on for the rest of the shift.

This “lock-out” has made some people furious, said Andy, a signal worker in Sheffield.

“Some are now more up for the strike, though others say many issues have been settled.

“The company also wants to reduce the amount of signal boxes around the country, affecting our jobs. We all need to stick together to win.”

It will take hard-hitting action to win this battle. RMT activists must mobilise to win the biggest possible yes vote in the reballot to send a defiant message to the bosses, courts and government.

The union must be prepared to call strike action regardless of any court decision.

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