Use the loo, get the boot
“SINCE PADDINGTON the rail companies have done nothing to improve safety on the railways. Instead they have spent their time victimising union activists.” That was the comment of Sarah Friday, a train driver for 11 years, who was sacked on Tuesday of last week by South West Trains (SWT), one of the companies involved in the Paddington rail crash.
One of the trumped-up charges was that she “failed to advise her supervisor that she was going to the toilet”. Sarah is an active trade unionist, and health and safety officer. She is one of only four women out of 150 train drivers based at Waterloo station in south London. RMT union members at Waterloo believe that Sarah was sacked because she campaigned against long hours. SWT drivers often work ten hour shifts, and work seven hours without a break.
The RMT will be balloting all its train crew members based at Waterloo on a series of 24 hour strikes. Strike action by the 150 guards and drivers would lead to an almost total closure of SWT services from Waterloo and the south west.
The union is calling on its members to back a series of 24 hour strikes. If the strike action takes place it will affect most rail lines in Britain. The result was due to be announced this week.
New strike at Connex
TRAIN DRIVERS working for privatised rail company Connex are set to strike again. The stoppage by drivers in the ASLEF union is due to take place on Tuesday of next week. A driver from Connex said, “We won the last strike. Management promised to cut our hours to 35 hours a week and increase our pensions. But instead of negotiating in a constructive way they are trying to renege on the spirit of the deal.”
Another driver, from Tunbridge Wells, added, “Nothing has changed-our depot manager is cockier than ever. He goes around intimidating union reps and bullying trainee drivers. We’ve all had a bellyful of him.” Connex drivers staged a one day strike earlier this month. Over 90 percent of trains were cancelled, and management caved in. But now Connex management want to force the union to agree to split shifts. Split shifts could mean that a driver would work for four hours, then get three hours off, and then come back to do three more hours. The 24 hour strike is set to be followed by six more days of action.
His treatment exposes the British state