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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2010

Network Rail dispute: RMT signalworker speaks to The Socialist

THE RAIL, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union planned strike action on 6-9 April by its signalling and supervisory members in Network Rail over the company's plan to axe 1,500 jobs and impose changes in working conditions. A signalworker in the south east spoke to The Socialist.

[Ed- Since this article was posted, a bosses' court awarded an injunction against the union and got the strike postponed. A re-ballot was promised by the RMT.]

Network Rail is imposing major changes to working conditions that will be detrimental to our work, the safety of passengers and our personal lives. The imposition of new rosters shows Network Rail is not prepared to stand by agreements made several years ago, principles that lay out shift patterns and rest times.

With the modernisation of the signalling network, new large [signal] boxes mean most workers don't live nearby so have to travel far to work, so 12-hour shifts suit many workers. Management attitudes are driven by cost cutting: on a 12-hour roster you can only stay on for another hour, on an eight-hour you can work another four hours on a flat rate. Network Rail management are imposing these changes with no consideration for people's lives and work/life relationships.

Management are also tearing up the Personal Terms Redundancy and Resettlement agreement where if displaced you will get another similar grade job in your locality. This is not being adhered to in some cases.

If you work in a resignalling scheme and your box closes then you should be redeployed. Rather than using existing skilled workers who are available, new [less skilled] people are being taken on. If a stand is not made now then they will keep eroding our terms until the documents are worth nothing.

Other cuts are also being made to staffing agreements. When the line is blocked for engineering work 'detonators' are used as a last resort to stop trains, the final piece of protection. This policy is being scrapped with the responsibility falling back onto the signaller. Once again this is a cost cutting measure to save money. Signallers are not receiving extra pay for new duties.

We shouldn't be attacked in this way and we have to take a stand. We want an assurance that these imposed rosters are scrapped and the current agreements and working practices are stuck to and followed.

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In The Socialist 31 March 2010:

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