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Strikes to hit Network Rail

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Network Rail maintenance workers Around 12,000 Network Rail maintenance workers in the RMT transport union are set to strike from 12 noon this Saturday in a fight to win harmonisation of terms and conditions.
Issue 2111
Tube cleaners protesting outside City Hall (Pic:» Guy Smallman )
Tube cleaners protesting outside City Hall (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Network Rail maintenance workers

Around 12,000 Network Rail maintenance workers in the RMT transport union are set to strike from 12 noon this Saturday in a fight to win harmonisation of terms and conditions.

The strike will continue until 5.59pm on Sunday. Members will also not undertake any overtime or “on-call” work between 6am on Saturday to 6am on Monday of next week.

A solid strike on 14 and 15 June brought maintenance work to a near standstill. This weekend’s strike comes after talks failed to make significant progress.

Gordon Martin, the secretary of the RMT’s Wishaw and Motherwell branch, told Socialist Worker, “There has been progress in the talks, but it’s been very slight and slow. And it wasn’t enough to satisfy the RMT executive and the reps from the regions who met in London last week.

“Now we will see if this weekend’s action will be enough to move management so they give us a better offer, or whether we will need more action in the future.

“The last strike was pretty solid and I expect this one to be similar.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said, “We had hoped that fresh talks after our first strike would make some progress, but it is clear that the company is still trying to use what should be talks about harmonisation as a cost-cutting attack on jobs and conditions.

“To say our reps are angry at the lack of progress would be an understatement, and the RMT executive has agreed to call the second weekend’s stoppage our reps have demanded.”

Workers at Network Rail are also angry that the company found £700,000 to pay bonuses to three directors, including chief executive Iain Coucher, while claiming that it cannot meet their demands.

London Underground cleaners

Cleaners working for contractors on London Underground are continuing their fight for a living wage and against the suspension of several workers by the ISS company.

The workers, who are members of the RMT union, struck for three days earlier this month against their employers – ISS, Initial, ICS and GBM.

The strikers, who are mainly migrant workers, are demanding decent pay and conditions.

Following the strike a number of workers at ISS have been suspended after they received letters telling them that their national insurance numbers are wrong.

At present some cleaners are paid just over £5.50 an hour. They face harassment and intimidation from management, and are under constant threat from the Home Office.

The cleaners and their supporters demonstrated outside London mayor Boris Johnson’s question time at City Hall on Wednesday of last week.

Johnson said that cleaners on Metronet contracts – a company he now controls – would be paid the London living wage of £7.45 an hour “by August at the latest”.

But in a later statement he said that this would apply only to those contracts up for renewal next month.

That would leave cleaners on Metronet’s ITS contract, which is not due for renewal until 2009, being paid nearly £2 an hour less than fellow workers doing identical work.

Cleaners on TubeLines contracts on the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern lines would have to endure poverty pay until those contracts are up for renewal – in up to four years time!

Phillip Mambuliya, the chair of the RMT’s cleaners’ grade of the Finsbury Park branch, told Socialist Worker, “The union is attempting to find ways and means to stop the suspension of our members.

“Many of those suspended have worked for the companies for a number of years and have only now been told their national insurance numbers are wrong.”

Workers are now discussing the next steps in their campaign. Cleaners in the Unite union on London Underground are also balloting for action over the same issues. A coordinated strike by the two unions would step up the pressure on the bosses and Johnson.

Send messages of support and donations to Olly New, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Cheques payable to “RMT Finsbury Park branch”

Strike to support sacked worker

RMT union members at Elephant and Castle, Lambeth North and Charing Cross London Underground stations are set to strike from 7pm this Sunday in support of sacked worker Jerome Bowes.

Management has sacked Jerome following an incident at Elephant and Castle station on New Year’s Eve after a man verbally and physically harrassed him.

After being struck, Jerome defended himself from further assault by hitting the man back.

The police did not think the matter serious enough to arrest anybody involved.

Workers voted by 90 percent to strike in support of Jerome.

Matthew Cookson

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