Socialist Worker

Court ruling could derail Southern train strike

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2507

Southern Rail workers on strike last month

Southern Rail workers on strike last month (Pic: Socialist Wroker)

A judge banned the Aslef train drivers’ union from going on strike last week.

Bosses at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) had applied for an injunction to override the union’s democratic vote.

Some 84 percent voted for strikes on an 82 percent turnout on Southern and Gatwick Express services.

The judge found in the bosses’ favour.

Bosses were granted a provisional injunction preventing industrial action until claims Aslef acted “unlawfully” can be investigated at a full hearing, set for 27 June.

That trial date comes at a very convenient date for GTR bosses.

It is very close to the end of the four-week period Southern train guards have to accept a new role, which they oppose.

If they don’t accept they can be sacked eight weeks later.

The guards’ RMT union has yet to call more strikes in their dispute over changes to the guards’ job.

Union leaders should refuse to be cowed by the anti-union laws and defy them.

If they don’t, the injunction against Aslef will be a blow to escalating the dispute over driver only operation (DOO).

Bosses want to further roll out DOO across the network.

But unions argue that this is being imposed without negotiation and is less safe than having safety duties also carried out by train guards.

The anti-union laws are designed to make union leaders police their own members and undermine the collective strength of workers.

But taking unofficial action can beat the bosses back.

Tram workers strike in south London

Croydon tram drivers’ union Aslef has announced a two-day strike next Wednesday and Thursday in a dispute over pay.

It follows a 100 percent vote for strikes.

The south London tram services are operated, under Transport for London branding, by multinational FirstGroup.

Workers want a better offer than the 2.6 percent rise the bosses have offered—as it doesn’t make up for cuts made to their pensions.

Start ballot to beat North Sea oil bosses

North Sea oil and gas barons are preparing to inflict yet more misery on offshore workers.

One in three firms plan further job cuts this year.

More than 40 percent are planning “cost-cutting measures”, according to a Bank of Scotland report on the industry.

Tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs in the past couple of years.

Bosses are using the downturn in oil prices to impose longer shifts, pay cuts and more casualisation of the workforce.

Workers have repeatedly warned of the implications for safety offshore and fear a major disaster is waiting to happen. All they have heard from the politicians are calls for more tax breaks for the bosses.

The Scottish National Party’s £12 million flagship retraining fund for sacked workers has delivered cash to fewer than 100 people.

Workers want their unions to act.

Earlier this year the new Offshore Coordinating Group (OCG) brought together all the offshore unions.

But many are still waiting to see what it will deliver.

An announcement by Shell in recent months that it was shedding hundreds more jobs provoked outrage among Wood Group workers on the Shell contract.

For some it was the third redundancy notice in a year.

Their Unite union announced it officially went into dispute almost two weeks ago.

The only thing the bosses will listen to is workers stopping production.

That’s why it’s time for the unions to get on with the ballot.

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