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Rail union RMT today (Tuesday 4 December) called for the resignation of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and for swift action to begin bringing the railways back into public ownership, as MPs on the Transport Select Committee laid into the timetable chaos across the north and the south in May this year.

The union says that for the Committee to question whether this is the worst time in the railways’ history shows just how bad things have got under the broken, fragmented privatised mess created 25 years ago by the Tories.

This bombshell MPs’ report catalogues:

• Failures which will “live long in the memories” of passengers for a prolonged period of intensely inconvenient, costly and dangerous disruption

• The “astonishing complexity of a disaggregated railway … a fragmented, overcomplicated system with competing contractual interests”, with the Secretary of State “at the apex of the system”

• How the “governance and decision-making structures in place for the May 2018 rail timetabling change were not fit for purpose”

• People with sensory, mobility and other impairments were disproportionately affected and the ORR needs to “prove its effectiveness in this policy area by … stepping up its enforcement activity including using its powers to levy fines on train operating companies”

• How “a fifth of rail passengers have suffered appalling services” and a “fares increase in these circumstances would confirm the fares system is broken”

• How “the Secretary of State for Transport is responsible for the structure of the system that controls and runs our railways … it is therefore not reasonable for the Secretary of State to absolve himself of all responsibility”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“This report represents the most devastating official indictment of 25 years of Britain’s privatised railways and makes it crystal clear that the system has failed, the man in charge of the system has failed and no amount of reviews or fiddling around the edges will make right something so fundamentally wrong and broken as the mess that passengers are faced with on a daily basis.

“This bombshell report lays the blame clearly with the disastrous fragmentation of our railways and with the man at the controls, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. He was asleep at the wheel of a broken, fragmented, over-complicated system that is solely of his party’s creation. He has presided over a collective, systemic failure and passengers deserve nothing less than his resignation.

“Chris Grayling’s rail review is nothing more than a smokescreen designed to deflect from his failures and the failures of privatisation. It is not just that the governance and decision-making structures are not fit for purpose, it is the whole rotten system – and it should be put back together and put into public ownership immediately.”

Tube union RMT announced on Tuesday further strike action on London Underground’s Central Line on Friday 21st December and Saturday 22nd December 2018. The action is over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations, a failure to employ enough drivers, a wholesale abuse of agreed procedures and the victimisation of a trade union member.

It follows on from 24-hour action earlier this month that shut down the service completely.

The union has accused LU management of refusing to lift a finger to make serious progress in talks aimed at resolving the disputes.

As a result of continuing management failure to address the issues, RMT confirms the following Central Line Train Operators and Instructor Operators are to take strike action by not booking on for any shifts that commence between:

• 20:00 hours on Friday 21st December and 02:00 hours on Saturday 22nd December 2018

• 04:00 hours and 20:00 hours on Saturday 22nd December 2018

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“Our members have shown just how angry they are at the abject failure of management to sort out long-standing problems with the rock-solid action earlier this month, and LU have now had plenty of time to resolve the issues but have chosen to bury their heads in the sand.

“Industrial relations along the Central Line have been at breaking point for some time now and the failure of the management to face facts, and a conscious decision to up the ante by attempting to single out and pick off individual members of staff, has tipped the situation over the edge and has led to the announcement of further strike action.

“There is a growing culture on London Underground that revolves around refusing to employ enough drivers, bullying staff and expecting our members to pick up the pieces when the service breaks down. RMT members on the Central Line have made it clear that they have had enough and are prepared to stand up and fight for workplace respect and justice.

“Tube bosses are well aware of the level of anger on the job and it’s down to them to take the situation seriously and engage in genuine talks around reaching a solution to the current disputes.”

RMT revealed today that Scotrail passengers and taxpayers could be subsiding bailout loans to the beleaguered company and being charged to the tune of an eye-watering 8 per cent.

Scotrail is owned is by Dutch State Rail, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), and in an article in the Dutch press reporting NS support for its subsidiaries, including Scotrail, NS financial director Bert Groenenwegen says: “The additional payments consist of loans from the parent company to the subsidiary. 8% interest is paid on this and there is no reason to assume that the money cannot be repaid at the end of the concession.”

This rate of return clearly outstrips the Rail Delivery Group’s claim of an average return of 2 per cent for train company investments.

The revelation comes on the day that the Scottish Parliament is due to vote on whether the Scottish government should enforce the ScotRail break clause to bring the current franchise to an end in 2022.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that the loan by Dutch State rail to its Scottish subsidiary will have to be paid back at an 8 per cent rate, when instead the money could be used to improve services and cut fares.

“Once again, it is the Scottish passengers and taxpayers who are paying the price of privatisation, and that is why 25 years after the UK legislation that brought in the rail privatisation disaster the Scotland Parliament should today take a stand and vote to begin to bring this madness to an end in Scotland,” he said.

THE FIREFIGHTERS' DILEMMA

TUCG: MARK SERWOTKA ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AUSTERITY

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