Welsh train fleet workers victory against transfer to private company

A Transport for Wales train, photo by Geof Sheppard/CC

A Transport for Wales train, photo by Geof Sheppard/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Ross Saunders, Socialist Party Wales

Train fleet maintenance workers in the RMT transport union are celebrating in South Wales after scoring what looks like a complete victory without having to fire a shot.

With a turnout of 80%, 98% of members voted in favour of strike action, sending an unignorable message to franchise-holder Transport for Wales Rail Services that workers would hit the company’s profits unless it acceded to the union’s demands.

Transport for Wales Rail Services – a trading name for giant corporations Keolis and Amey – capitulated immediately. Workers will no longer be outsourced and their pay, terms, conditions and pensions will receive the same protection as workers in the stations and on the trains in the franchise, as direct employees of Transport for Wales Rail Services.

The action shows that with the right tactics, carefully identifying the issues which the members feel most strongly, it is possible to defeat the Tory anti-union laws. It has boosted the confidence of workers in workplaces far removed from the railways and raised their sights as to what is possible if bold action is organised.

RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley explains: “We fought the Welsh Assembly [Government] which wanted to outsource our workers despite saying we’d bring them all in house. We’ve won that battle. And if trade unions get united – there’s six million of us and we can pull a lot more people with us.

“We can defeat all the attacks we face. We can renationalise every service. We can make this a socialist country.”