Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/808/18496
Rail workers prepare for action
RMT member, Birmingham
Recently it was revealed in the Guardian newspaper that from the £4 billion in tax-payer subsidy to train operating companies, £200 million was siphoned off as dividends to shareholders.
One of these companies, London Midland, is on course for a major collision with the RMT over a profit-maximising jobs cull.
The company is intending to cut its overheads by slashing its revenue protection department (ticket inspectors and associated clerical staff) and getting rid of 150 jobs, replacing them with 48 new positions on inferior pay and conditions.
At a packed and combative RMT branch meeting in Birmingham on 3 April members from various grades were brought up to speed on the situation.
The Company Council member representing the affected staff describing the plan as having "McNulty written all over it".
In 2011 the government published its infamous McNulty report which detailed ways of cutting rail industry costs, chief among them being by eliminating staff.
But nobody can fail to see the short-sightedness of cutting enforcement staff which will mean the company is actually reducing its ability to collect its own revenue.
It was also revealed at the meeting that London Midland has, so far, failed to observe the Promotion, Training, Redundancy and Relocation document which covers rail workers.
As a result of this, RMT is preparing to ballot members in all grades for strike action unless the company agrees to rule out compulsory redundancies.
Importantly, everyone agreed that if the company is allowed to get away with attacking the revenue side, there can be no doubt that other grades will be next.
Getting rid of guards and extending Driver Only Operation is a real and very dangerous aspiration for profit-hungry railway bosses.
Reps from other grades including the guards stood up and pledged maximum support for the revenue staff which was met with rounds of applause.
Rail workers generally enjoy better than average pay and conditions but this is only as a result of the struggle and sacrifice of previous generations of rail workers and the willingness of today's workers to defend conditions.
Once again it could be necessary to take strike action to defend ourselves and prove to London Midland management that we are united and are not going to be picked off one grade at a time.
In The Socialist 23 April 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party workplace news