Socialist Worker

Determined to win

ABOUT 1,300 RMT union members working for the EWS freight company struck for 48 hours last weekend. Michael Hogg, the chair of the RMT’s council of reps on the company, explains why

Issue No. 1927

EWS MANAGEMENT has been trying to impose a new contract for some drivers, which would mean them doing the jobs of engineering and ground staff.

The campaign and strike ballot by RMT members in the engineering and ground staff sections has forced the company to back off from that.

Aslef, the union representing most drivers at EWS, was also opposed it. But the company is still trying to bring in these changes by the back door.

We are clear that if we do not stop that it will mean losing jobs over the next few years.

There are also major problems over working conditions. There is no national handbook outlining working practices, despite the fact that we have been trying to negotiate one for over four years.

There’s no agreement over rosters. That means you can end up working an early shift, a back shift and a late shift one after the other. It means people being stuck near the phone on a Friday waiting to find out if they are going to be given a 12- hour shift on a Saturday.

There’s no hope of anything like a normal life. Our strike was supported 100 percent and was highly effective. There were enormous numbers of cancellations, each one costing the company £25,000.

They spent £1.4 million training up managers to scab. But that proved ineffective, and we have major concerns about people with just a few hours experience being given the job of moving trains.

There is a real sense of achievement among RMT members on EWS. But we haven’t won yet. Talks were planned for this Thursday.

We were all very clear that if no acceptable solution comes from that we will continue our action.

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Article information

Sat 13 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1927
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