Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/700/13468
We need more railway jobs
In December 2011, after a dispute between Scotrail and rail union Aslef, an agreement was reached which provides for the recruitment of at least 32 train drivers in 2012 and for eliminating rest day working by April 2013.
Rest day working is where drivers work shifts on their rest days to avoid the service being disrupted through staff shortages.
Working overtime has a long history in the rail industry. Even as late as 20 years ago, before privatisation, some workers would improve take-home pay by working overtime. Getting your rest day in and 'making 12' were ways to do this.
Making 12 was when overtime was available and workers would agree to extend their shift to 12 hours. This was sometimes done on the day itself, meaning disruption to home and social life to make up for low rates of basic pay.
Even now there is still considerable overtime working. In some companies it is thought overtime covers 10% of services.
The franchise system in the rail industry means employers have few incentives to recruit and train staff, particularly towards the end of a franchise. If a firm trains staff and then loses the franchise they will have effectively subsidised their successful competitor.
With a million unemployed young people, the rail unions now have a responsibility to cut the reliance on overtime as soon as possible. This will not be achieved overnight, as it can take nearly a year to train a train driver. The Scotrail agreement makes a start. Now elected reps should press for similar arrangements, with numbers to be recruited and a deadline for eliminating rest day working.
What better way is there to convince young people to join the trade unions in the rail industry than to be able to say the unions have played a part in opening up job chances for those who face a lifetime of unemployment?
In The Socialist 11 January 2012:
Socialist Party Interview
Them and Us
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party features
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews and comments