Friday, February 20, 2009
RMT TO CO-ORDINATE STRIKE BALLOTS TO DEFEND RAIL JOBS
RMT to co-ordinate strike ballots to defend rail jobsPublication Date: February 19 2009 MORE than 3,500 members of Britain’s biggest rail union working at three major train-operating companies are to be balloted for strike action after employers failed to provide unequivocal assurances that there will be no forced job losses. Co-ordinated RMT ballots in separate disputes over job cuts at National Express East Anglia, South West Trains and First Capital Connect raise the prospect of simultaneous strikes on key commuter lines into London. Postal votes in all four disputes will open on March 3 and close on March 17. The same balloting timetable has also been scheduled in a further separate dispute at London Overground, over a breakdown in industrial relations (see separate release). “Our members are facing industry-wide attacks on their jobs by privateer train operators who between them have siphoned tens of millions out of the railways, and our only possible response is to co-ordinate resistance to them,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today. “The job losses being imposed to protect the short-term, selfish interests of the parasites running our railways threaten to do lasting damage, and they are the last thing our members, the travelling public, the environment or the economy need. “The scale of cuts cannot be excused as good housekeeping. It is a full-scale onslaught that sacrifices experienced and loyal rail staff simply to keep profits up, and it can only undermine service and safety. “Our reps are telling us that trained and experienced rail workers are being bullied and cajoled into leaving for fear of worse terms if they are forced out, and that some operators are turning increasingly to using low-paid casual agency staff. “The government has said it will ride out the recession by investing in public projects, but if it allows train-operating companies to decimate jobs it will be subsidising redundancies while the privateers continue to pay fat dividends to their shareholders. “The time has come to draw a line in the sand,” Bob Crow said.