Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/236/25105
Public Service Not Private Profiteering
Renationalise the railways!
THE STRIKES by staff working for South West Trains (SWT) and the overtime ban by Scotrail staff, are keeping the sorry state of Britain's privatised railways in the news. Combined with the rail fare increases of up to 17% announced by some companies, it is no wonder that support for the renationalisation of rail is growing.
Scotrail workers are refusing to work their rest days. The train companies' reliance on long working hours is shown by the cancellation of a quarter of all Scotrail services. And the main Glasgow to Edinburgh route is running with two trains an hour instead of four.
Rail union RMT members at SWT were on strike on 3/4 and 7/8 January, affecting many routes in south east England.
TERRY ADAMS, a PCS member, visited the picket line at Wimbledon and spoke to SUSAN ELLIOT, a guard. She told him:
"All 48 guards here are solidly in support of the strike. Only a handful of others have gone in. It reflects the anger and concern of our members against low pay, long hours and low morale."
CHRIS MOORE visited Waterloo station on 4 January and spoke to RMT pickets. Pickets explained: "Members feel the pay deal offered to station staff is totally unacceptable. On paper 16.7% sounds good, but spread over three years it doesn't become a very good offer. SWT has made it clear to all staff that if you're not a driver you'll not get the same pay-related deal.
"It's become clear that all station staff will not get above 4% because we're non-essential staff, (this includes train cleaners, platform staff, customer care and revenue staff). That's infuriated all station staff. The general feeling coming from above is you either accept it or that's going to be it. It's like a dark cloud hanging over our heads. Staff feel undermined and angry.
"All staff are behind the strike, 75% voted in favour of action and the strike is solid, drivers are also right behind us in this dispute. From the public we've had buses hooting in support and passengers supporting us."
As Chris stood on the picket line a woman passenger came up and donated £10 to the strike fund.
- Renationalise the railway network under the democratic control of rail workers and users.
- Rich shareholders who made fortunes out of privatisation should get no compensation. Small shareholders, especially Railtrack employees, should get compensation on the basis of proven need.
- For a massive increase in investment in the railways to improve safety and services.
In The Socialist 11 January 2002: