Socialist Worker

Rail workers

Issue No. 1875


MEMBERS OF the RMT rail workers' union are currently voting to elect a new president. The previous president, John Cogger, died earlier this year. Socialists should make sure they campaign and vote for Tony Donaghy. We need to make sure that right wing candidates such as Colin Cook don't get a look-in.

Cook is determined to crush solidarity between the RMT and other groups of workers like the firefighters. He is also a firm backer of Blair. The ballot closes on 5 December.


London Underground

TUBE WORKERS in the RMT union are to ballot for industrial action, including strikes, to restore safety on the battered underground system. A BBC documentary this week showed they are right to take action. It revealed confidential documents from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) detailing corner-cutting in track maintenance and inspection under the PPP privatisation regime on the tube.

The HSE found thousands of examples of 'substantial non-compliance' with safety regulations. Safety began deteriorating as the network was broken up in preparation for PPP, which came in this year.

In the 12 months before, there was a 35 percent rise in the number of signal, points and track faults. Tube bosses and the government scoffed at warnings from unions, passenger groups and most people in London that handing the track to different consortia of private companies would compromise safety.

But there have been five serious derailments on the tube over the last 13 months, including the two that happened two weekends ago. London Underground and the consortia refused to reinstate daily inspections of track last week or give other assurances asked for by the RMT.

Ballot papers are due to go out next week. Meanwhile union activists are seeking to build up the confidence of tube workers to stand up to managers and refuse to work unsafely.

Network Rail

THE ACCEPTANCE by the government that the privatisation of rail maintenance has been a disaster comes not a moment too late. But Network Rail is not taking over the maintenance contracts simply to run the railways more rationally-it is doing it to drive down costs. That means redundancies.

Up to 700 staff expect to be kicked out. For those of us facing a transfer to Network Rail this is alarming. We should organise to make sure Network Rail realises that we are not about to allow them to do this. If any compulsory redundancies are announced there should be a common ballot for strike action for all Network Rail staff and for all those staff that have just been told they are to be transferred.

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Sat 1 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1875
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