BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Rail strikes announced: Your reaction

17:54 UK time, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Gordon Brown has called for more dialogue between Network Rail and unions to prevent the first national strike for 16 years. Will you be affected by the strike?

The RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association are planning four days of action from 6 April in a row over jobs and working practices.

Are the rail unions right to call for strike action? Will your travel plans be affected? Are you a rail worker?

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    We have BA....
    Now the Railways....

    Whoever takes wins the election will need to tackle the Unions. We are in the same boat as when Labour were last in power in the 70's. This time we have no Maggie Thatcher.

  • Comment number 2.

    Any union trying to save 1,500 jobs has my support.

  • Comment number 3.

    IN this day & age with so many out of work ...they should sack them, without job seekers allowence & give the jobs to those who WANT a job - many would jump at the chance!After a year without anything (a job)they would miss, what they have thrown away.

  • Comment number 4.

    this isnt action about safety its about union power and bob crow trying to turn britain into cuba, we have just watched ba management announce attacking its workers privledges so it will be of no surprise to see the railway industry using industrial action to take away striking workers teavel concessions,

  • Comment number 5.

    If the railworkers are striking for safety reasons, they may well be right to do so......We need to know more about what they think is going to lessen our safety as passengers, and theirs as workers There may good reasons with which we as customers agree.....what are they?

  • Comment number 6.

    2. billyhano
    "Any union trying to save 1,500 jobs has my support. "

    And mine! Especially when they are also trying to maintain safety standards.

  • Comment number 7.

    My teenage son is due heart surgery and is desperate to have it in the summer holidays so that it doesn't interfere with start of Sixth Form. He has overnight stay at St Thomas's Hospital on 8th and 9th April as he's due to have general anaesthetic. We normally travel by train from Kent. As there is no parking available, have no idea how we are going to get there and really worried that this will now delay my poor son's surgery.

    I don't blame the workers for going on strike, especially when it is over safety concerns, but the timing couldn't come at worst time for my son.




  • Comment number 8.

    I am disappointed that the RMT has called a strike, especially when the majority of its signalling members voted for action short of a strike. However, despite what Network Rail has said, the public need to be aware that safety concerns are paramount. Just today Network Rail have been criticised by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch for a train derailment in Cumbria in June 2009; they have also recently been served with two improvement and prohibition notices by the Office of Rail Regulator regarding maintenance and safety. One notice was in Wales whilst the other covers South East England. An extract includes:

    "The Office of Rail Regulation refer specifically to a massive backlog of safety inspection work across the South East and in a letter to Network Rail say that their inquiries have:

    "…revealed significant issues with the inspection process, including but not limited to seriously out of date detailed inspections and visual inspections which did not meet the requirements of the standards for such matters."

  • Comment number 9.

    Can you be a self imployed non union member on netwark rail.The building trade dont strike with this system.

  • Comment number 10.

    5. bcumulus
    "If the railworkers are striking for safety reasons, they may well be right to do so......We need to know more about what they think is going to lessen our safety as passengers, and theirs as workers There may good reasons with which we as customers agree.....what are they?"

    There is a briefing paper available from the RMT website which clarifies the issues.

    RMT - Network Rail Jobs Cull

  • Comment number 11.

    The union are doing what it is supposed to do - fight for their staff as they have done for all of us since the Tolpuddle Martyrs. It is easy to be critical and whinge about the personal inconvenience being caused but think about the situation if your job was under threat.

    Notwithstanding this there are efficiency savings that can be made both in the way the work is undertaken and the deploymernt of staff even though the basis for the staff numbers is not without flaw.

    This reorganisation will reduce staff and should not compromise safety. However, the response time to failures is likely to be compromised leading to greater delays and period of longer disruption.

    So to those who are complaining about the strike now please don't complain about being delayed for several hours on your way home /way into work when say, the next signal failure occurs.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ 7:12pm on 25 Mar 2010, billyhano wrote:

    "Any union trying to save 1,500 jobs has my support."

    The trouble with this scenario is that given the fact that our government has led our country into the deepest pit of ordure we have ever encountered, there are going to be a lot more than just 1500 jobs lost. There is going to be a lot of blood on the carpet, and these dinosaur unions had better get used to the idea or die, because if they continue the way they are, they will cause the loss of many more jobs than would have been necessary. We're all in the Brown stuff, and we're all going to suffer. The unions' actions are just going to ensure that we all suffer more than we need to.

    It is highly possible that the rail unions, by "trying to save 1,500 jobs" could end up jeopardising 20,000.

  • Comment number 13.

    Isn't it strange how so many of the TU's seem to do their best to down a labour government when an election is due.

  • Comment number 14.

    These strikes do not good for the Unions, the public will not back them for this. Its the Union who have for weeks wanted a fight with the Railways. He has been spending a lot of time on TV Mr Crow, he is trying to get back to the old ways of Unions. Will not work

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh joy, no trains for another week. So, I'll have to pay twice to get to work via another method all week. Great.

    Also, when this particular strike achieves nothing, there'll be another round a few weeks later and they'll have forgotten all about the 'safety' issues. It'll all be about pay. Again. It always is. (sigh)

  • Comment number 16.

    Strikes where effectively a small number of workers can hold the country to ransom should be banned. It is unfair for such a small number of workers to have so much power and be able to cause so much misery and inconvience to so many people. It's not quite like the BA strike, as there are alternatives to BA.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm completely behind this strike, if you want to save 1500 jobs, then a strike is a price worth paying.

    The problem appears to be that Network Rail is classifying look-outs, who are often required when staff are trying to minimise disruption by working on open lines, as "non-productive" workers and therefore put them in the firing line. This is unforgivable.

    Secondly, I doubt we will see any workers losing their travel privelidges, since the only Network Rail staff who get any privelidges are staff who need them for work purposes.

    Finally,

  • Comment number 18.

    Unions were drastically reformed in this country by Thatcher and consolidated by Blair. Crap management was half the problem in the bad old 60's and 70's. Now it's 90%. BA, the post office, rail, potentially great businesses, kneecapped by cowboy management.

  • Comment number 19.

    12. L Hillman
    "It is highly possible that the rail unions, by "trying to save 1,500 jobs" could end up jeopardising 20,000."

    A n argument for compliant inaction and supine acceptance of whatever our masters decree for us. Not too comfortable with that, myself!

  • Comment number 20.

    On their side the Unions say safety would be jeopardised. Could they say in what ways?
    On their side Network Rail says they are trying to change working practices dating back to the steam age. Could they enlighten us as to what those may be?

  • Comment number 21.

    This will bring out the usual sack them and take on the unemployed comments. Where are all these skilled unemployed? Any job involving public safety involves training. BA were willing to bring in untrained staff and it looks as though the rail companies are going to cut down on safety too. These managers are willing to put our lives at risk in order to make cuts and many of the public seem not to care either

  • Comment number 22.

    Another thing that hasn't helped is the fact that whilst the Unions have sought a negotiated settlement using ACAS one of the people they're in dispute with - Peter Bennett (Network Rail Head of HR) is also on the ACAS Council.

    Threats of legal challenges to the unions during negotiations don't exactly bode well for "professional & businesslike discussions".

  • Comment number 23.

    16. David
    "Strikes where effectively a small number of workers can hold the country to ransom should be banned."

    This without even considering the issues involved. Shallow!

  • Comment number 24.

    Strikes aren't going to do anybody any good. Can striking employees really afford to forfeit their wages at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. These strikes will cause misery to the travelling public, hit small businesses and effect tourism during one of the busiest times of the year. Stop voting for strikes - vote during the General Election instead and try and make a difference without causing so much upset the hardworking, tax paying, public transport depending, tow the line majority public.

  • Comment number 25.

    Quite right Mustafa Beer. Pity we can't bring Maggie back. The country sorely needs her now.

  • Comment number 26.

    @grumpyoldman
    "On their side the Unions say safety would be jeopardised. Could they say in what ways?"

    In this way - look-outs are required when staff are working on open railway lines, it is their job to warn track staff of approaching trains, some look-out posts are in danger from being axed.

  • Comment number 27.

    We seem to have had a change in management style in the uk and are back to using the big stick. People don't respond well to imposed change, consensus is needed. Convince the workforce of the need for change and listen to their fears. If you don't prepare people for change, imposition will certainly bring the kind of response BA/NR are getting now. When the board talk about 1500 job cuts these aren't just numbers of salaries saved but people whose lives are being changed. Remember its not just the ones you get rid of but the changes to the remaining workforce too. I saw an NR representative claiming that the railways are doing extremely well, if that's the case why rush into conflict. If they believe that they have a better way of working have they run a pilot scheme? Can they show evidence that the changes are for the better? I take it that the NR management are also intending to change their working days to work nights and weekends if they believe it to be such a good idea.

  • Comment number 28.

    There are other ways of raising safety concerns. It is a poorly disguised red herring. The great and honourable cause for which unions were originally created has been hijacked and tarnished by power crazy 'wreckers' who serve nobody's interst but their own. Sack them all starting with the leaders and conveners first.

  • Comment number 29.

    The right to strike should be left alone. However if any Government wishes to effectively stop the Unions from inflicting great pain on the public - the answer is surprisingly simple: Create a law that makes the union calling the strike liable to pay the extra costs that Joe Public incurs getting to work by alternative means. IE parking + petrol in this Union's case. In Unite's case the cost of alternative flights so that the impact is nil/minimal. Maybe a Union might have a strike to test the water and have the test court case, but it ought to be a very expensive test for the Union!

  • Comment number 30.

    These strikes seem to be about nothing in particular. They have better salaries, working conditions and job security than most people but they strike anyway, putting more people out of work.

  • Comment number 31.

    I find this all very confusing. Why would unions (any union) make life so difficult for the Labour Party at this moment in time? I don't geddit.

    The Tories must be dancing round the room.

    It's like Kamikazi, except Japanese pilots didn't do it for money.

    Very strange.

  • Comment number 32.

    Thanks a lot RMT !!!
    You have just ruined my 25 wedding anniversary!
    My wife and I planned to go to Rome by train on the 7th April by Eurostar and then the Paris Rome train. now we can't..
    Thanks again!!
    I work hard, my wife works hard, what gives you the right to disrupt other people's lives to make a point. I thought you were responsible members of society, clearly all you want to do is cause the maximum amount of disruption. Well get this demi-gods. I'm suing your a*rse !!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Strikes solve nothing. The Union may or may not have a case, but either way they we alienate themselves with the public, who will be the biggest losers. We cannot go back to the 70's & 80's, where madcap militant unions did their best to destroy the country; in any case, Labour have done a good enough job of that already.

  • Comment number 34.

    Withdrawing their labour is the only weapon the workers have, but it should be only used as a last resort. Somewhere in the dispute is something not being expressed and the answer is the difference between the continental way of negoiating techniques and the UK. The difference being that the German way is they will discuss the planned changes with the unions first with each person having an equal say and thrash it out, but here the management tell the unions what they intend to do and leave the unions to decide whether they accept the terms or not and then the fight begins, completely the wrong way round. The result of this method of approach leaves the public suffering the most inconvenience and problems. Time has come for change in more ways than one.

  • Comment number 35.

    This is an absolute disgrace. Why do these unions think they have the right to disrupt the travelling public like this. It is obvious to do rail repairs when there are the least number of trains using the tracks which obviously means at night which means that staff can be used mire efficiently as they won't need to move to a safe place so often which will mean less chance of a bolt not being tightened properly because it has been overlooked because of the disturbance of the passing train. I fail to see why it should make the railways any less safe than they are now. This is just a smoke screen put up by the unions so that they can flex their muscles. I say that any worker who goes out on strike should permanently lose any travel perks that they get through their job.

  • Comment number 36.

    Frist an apoligy to all our railway customers that are going to be servely disrupted on these days of industrial action.
    Industrial action is our last resort to ensure your safety.
    First you hear is 1500 job losses from the people on the ground that maintain the railway infrastructure which the Network rail has nearly enough volunters to meet this figure.
    so you think why go on strike?/ or there must be more
    well yes there is, as well as the 1500 job losses there is what is called an reorganisation that will transfer many more jobs from the daily task of maintaining the railway infrastructure and ensuring your safety.
    so we believe that there will be not enough staff to maintain your safety.
    Also we have the backing of the TSSA union for middle mangement and supervisors who are not effected by this dispute with font line staff.
    so all staff involved in industrial action will loose a large amount of money we feel that strongly on the issue.
    so now this is out I hope we have the support of of customers the traveling public.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am not going to comment on the rights and wrongs of the proposed strike action. However, I do ask that if these strikes do go ahead that all train services are cancelled. Whilst that might seem odd, I find the false expectation that a service may or may not be running extremley infuriating; remove all doubt and cancel the lot. Everyone knows where they stand then and can make suitable arrangements.

  • Comment number 38.

    Don't you folk love the insanity?

    Have to say - Strikes are fantastic!

    Just imagine all we need are the buses and rest of the public services to walk out and the jobs done!

    Bring on the anarchy!

    Personally I am looking forward to more duvet days!! ;-)

    P.s Do you want to know why the railway employees are getting upset - Because the little empire builders are loosing their publicly funded little empires! shame! And all the intelligent folk of rational volition are no longer prepared to be your guilty victims! They all did a runner to the lands of milk and honey and left the intellectually stunted behind!

    Let civilisation fall apart in the desperate struggle of the fakers, the evaders and the delusional who are trying to grasp onto their little corners of 'getting away with it'! This is the year it all stops!

  • Comment number 39.

    18. David Cheshire
    "BA, the post office, rail, potentially great businesses, kneecapped by cowboy management."

    Sadly true!

  • Comment number 40.

    The people who are striking are not doing it for fun. It's about time top bosses realise that the general hard working men & women of this country have had enough of cut backs, bully tactics and "modernization". For those who are against the unions, I just hope you are never in the same situation as the workers who feel so strongly about their jobs that they will go without pay to fight for their long term futures.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have to get from Newcastle to Central London on one of the strike dates. I would normally get the train but since that is now no longer an option, I am going to have to spend a massive amount more on a flight that goes to an airport with a tube network (Heathrow). Ironically, that means my only choice is BA, and I'm not sure how much I trust their schedules at the moment.

    It is a sorry state of affairs when someone cannot get from A to B reliably using a form of transport other than a car. It's also sad that the vast majority of strikers will sit at home watching daytime TV as if it's a free holiday rather than actually debating properly with the companies that enable them to put rooves over their heads.

    Wake up - we're trying to get out of a recession here and doing something that forces someone to spend far more than they need to (air fare vs train fare) is a massive step back for everyone concerned.

  • Comment number 42.

    These cuts are nothing to do with track access - it's everything to do with the bottom line of NR. Ask Network Rail about Project ROSE and how it has cut inspections on some items of signalling equipment from quarterly to annually. Safety first? Don't make me laugh.

    Steve Featherstone of NR has already decided that he's happy with the risk of more train delays thanks to the proposed cutbacks to faulting staff.

    Any short term disruption by us withdrawing our labour for 4 days will be nothing compared with the long-term disruption caused by these ill thought out plans.

  • Comment number 43.

    Another nail in the coffin of the Labour Party who are unable to even criticise the union because they're our Governments' party paymaster. I notice Labour are leaving it to Lord Adonis to speak out as presumably Brown and the rest are too frightened.
    I look forward to having a Government that puts the country first, and not its party paymasters.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is this an Arthur Scargill or Margaret Thatcher moment?

  • Comment number 45.

    Shame the unions do not think of the general public who end of the day pay there wages, shame these unions do not consider people who cant get to work by any other means than the railway and will end up losing money from loss of earnings.

    forget the public transport system, and sub-standard staff that run a sub-standard service.

  • Comment number 46.

    In the last 20 years: An explosion in contract and agency workers with no rights whatsoever, more people in part time/low paid work, total stagnation in wages (even during the boom years of new labour's first decade), outsourcing of jobs resulting in poorer terms and conditions for those affected, off-shoring of UK jobs to the Far East and the use of cheap immigrant labour to undercut the local jobs market.

    Rejecting unions and turning into subservient self centred consumers has really paid dividends for the ordinary worker.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's political opportunism gone bad. Bob Crow and his band of communists presumably think that Labour won't want a strike in the middle of an election campaign, so they expect pressure to come from government for National Rail to cave in.

    If Labour apply pressure to concede to the unions, it's a gift to the Conservatives who can claim Labour is scared of the unions.

    If Labour don't apply pressure, people will indirectly blame the government for the strikes and being too weak or too scared to take on the unions. Another gift to the Conservatives.

    I don't imagine David Cameron thought of Bob Crow as an ally. But I expect he'll secretly be welcoming the support.

  • Comment number 48.

    20. At 8:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, grumpyoldman wrote:
    //On their side the Unions say safety would be jeopardised. Could they say in what ways?
    On their side Network Rail says they are trying to change working practices dating back to the steam age. Could they enlighten us as to what those may be?//

    Well you see the Unions will have you believe it necessary to employ large teams of railway enthusiasts to walk along railway lines checking every signal and every track to ensure they all work OK and are not in danger of breaking!

    Network Rail management with their ever shrinking budgets and large bonus payments will tell you that they can use cheap technology, fitting webcams and sensors on the front of fast moving trains to do the same job!

    But in reality neither are entirely right!

    The Unions could concede the 'job' can be done with fewer men on the ground and Network Rail management could concede it may compromise safety if such webcam technology were employed as the only means of checking the tracks!

    But the point is the empire builders and intellectually challenged people working in the industry (mostly steam engine fanatics) will never concede to the enemy! And neither really care because they are both sitting in a backward facing seat on their favourite steam powered locomotive and the public will always stump up the cash!

    Jarvis went into administration today - mainly responsible for railway maintenance (coincidence???)- once the largest contractor in the country - made massive profits £100m at the expense of the public for decades - lots of fat bonuses and share options for the bosses there folks! Who will have to pick up the pieces? Obviously they will become part of network rail again (publicly funded as before original privatisation) Bit off topic but I bet you never knew that when Network Rial got privatised in the 90s it was subsequently split up into two companies. ONE was called Railtrack and the other was called Railtrack PROPERTY! Well Railtrack property sold off loads of land up and down this nation (once publicly owned land) and that company made a massive private profit every year! While Railtrack Plc the bit subsequently re nationalised (kind of) made a massive loss every year and the taxpayer was required to bail it out every year but one. It was subsequently set up as publicly funded Network Rail - but what happened to the PROPERTY company and all its profits?? Oh you guessed it - the parasites are fleecing the taxpaying public again - that's you folks! More incompetence, moral bankruptcy and corruption!

    The railway industry is full of it!


    Viva la Revolution!

  • Comment number 49.

    I will be travelling to catch a plane an will be affected. I think 3 days is a lot of strain for travellers, expecially on such a short notice... I buy train tickets online to pay less and this might mean paying three times more, renting a car or having to stay in a hotel. They should have diluted the 3 days along a month.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Having spent my entire career in railway engineering and having lived through privatisation and endless reorganistations I share the concern of the unions about this proposed job cut. Even the Office of the Rail Regulator, while supporting the principle of an efficiency drive, are concerned about the methods Network Rail are using to achieve it. Safety should be everyone's number one concern, in truth not just in lip service. It requires experienced engineers in sensible numbers to make it so, and in my opinion here are already too few of them. It's not hard to see where this comes from; all the way from the bean counters at the DfT.

  • Comment number 52.

    What are these people trying to do? Create another "winter of discontent" and ruin Labour's chances at the forthcoming election? What on Earth do they expect if the huntin' shootin' and fishin' brigade get elected? Most of that crew have only ever used a train to return to boarding school when they were (much) younger so I can't see rail safety being top of their agenda; let the Proles take their chances is the way they will see it. Not a very intelligent strike I think.

  • Comment number 53.

    Quote
    20. At 8:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, grumpyoldman wrote:
    On their side the Unions say safety would be jeopardised. Could they say in what ways?
    On their side Network Rail says they are trying to change working practices dating back to the steam age. Could they enlighten us as to what those may be?
    / end Quote

    In a nut shell, the current practice for working on an open line (one with active trains) is to place spotters at either end of and at a safe distance from the work crew. The reasons being obvious.

    The Management want to remove these extra (non productive) persons and leave the crew to protect themselves. This is similar to asking a work team to work in the 3rd lane of the M25 without closing the lane or coning off any of the area.

    Perhaps not the best idea?

  • Comment number 54.

    If NuLabour are having their electoral chances made worse by striking union members then they have nobody to blame but themselves. For thirteen years they have hob nobbed with the wealthy industrialists, financiers, bankers and celebrities. They have forgotten who established the Labour Party in the first place, i.e. the unions, who did so in order to get representation for the labouring classes in the seats of power. NuLabour led by Blair and Brown swallowed hook line and sinker the myth that so-called "free" markets are the most efficient of systems; they are not, they are a jungle in which the weakest go to the wall and the winner takes all. They went along with the idea of globalisation which has enabled big money to move jobs around the world to wherever the labour is the cheapest enabling big money to become super big money and to hell with those who find the employment ground cut from underneath their feet whilst as a consequence the much despised Chinese "dictatorship" becomes stronger economically, militarily and able to claim to their people that their system works because now they too are getting the baubles served up by the system. NuLabour has peddled the Tory myth that all these concerns making big profits out of trade with and in China are piling up money for the ordinary man's pension, now tell that to all those people who have seen all their pension rights being cut back so massively in recent years, not it is to be noted the pension rights of the politicians.

    Our present economic situation has been made all the worse by the myth peddled by the financial world that everything in the garden was rosy, nothing of course could have been further from the truth, the lot of the top men in the big banks and financial houses that collapsed are even today a real bed of roses as they ensured, even as the ground disappeared from beneath their feet that they personally escaped with many millions. NuLabour in the UK, the Clinton administration in the USA should have been alert to what was going on and acted years ago to prevent matters getting worse, but the politicans were dazzled by the rhetoric of the city men.

    All this means that of course the unions are stupid going on strike so close to an election, I know that they are under massive pressure, but do they honestly think that they will get a better deal from the real Tory party?

    And to those who are concerned about their holidays and such like being disrupted I would say "Get real, next week, next month, next year it could well be you or yours that are fighting for your economic lives".

  • Comment number 55.

    I wonder how many union leaders of today ever created one single job?

    I'm guessing its probably none, because that would be too exploitative.

    Well, go on strike - and I hope the passengers also go on strike - on a different day and maybe the employers could go on strike too and not pay anyone - thats fair isnt it?

    Unions are supposed to protect employees, not drive their jobs into oblivion. Bob Crow is todays Arthur Scargill - goodbye RMT - we wont miss you...

  • Comment number 56.

    I would really like to know more FACTS about this and other strikes, all we get are sound bites from both sides. What I would like is a simple explanation of what the management says it wants and the union response on why it is not necessary or unsafe, whatever. The trouble is you never get simple facts so it is difficult to decide if it is unions refusing to move with the times or macho-management trying to move us back to the Victorian era or both.

    A lot of people are against strikes but are never able to produce a viable alternative if management will not listen or doesn't care about the workers. Is this strike justified? I don't know, as I cannot find the true facts and unlike so many others here I will refuse to make a decision on who is right without those facts.

    NOTE Richard C. (31) I find this all very confusing. Why would unions (any union) make life so difficult for the Labour Party at this moment in time? I don't geddit. - The answer is simple - the Government is NuLabour, it has more in common with the old Thatcherite policies than the ideals of the old Labour party and the unions are finally getting tired of working with the present 'I'm alright Jack' politicians.

  • Comment number 57.

    I do not use trains or planes, so do as you like. but from my point of view what you can't afford you can't keep.

  • Comment number 58.

    "32. My wife and I planned to go to Rome by train on the 7th April by Eurostar and then the Paris Rome train. now we can't.."

    Network Rail do not maintain or operate either the High Speed link, Channel Tunnel or the railways on mainland Europe!

    No doubt we'll also find a posting claiming that BA has ruined your journey....

  • Comment number 59.

    How many times have the unions sunk labours chances of getting elected. Wake up RMT all you will achieve is a Tory Gov't.

  • Comment number 60.

    It's simple really... If you don't like your job go and find another one and let someone else who does want it have it!!! If there is no-one taking up the jobs then conditions must be bad and the employer has to change, but if there are no vecancies then the companies must be doing something write...

    Unions are run by trouble makers, always have been. Just look at the union reps, everyone I've ever come across were poor performers who sought protection from sacking by becoming a rep...

    What this country needs is another Maggie to kick these dinosaurs into touch.

  • Comment number 61.

    Well, it is their legal right to strike, which makes the UK a free country. I will be heavily effected during that week, but I guess that is the point of a strike.

  • Comment number 62.

    51. At 8:57pm on 25 Mar 2010, dinosqueezer wrote:
    //Having spent my entire career in railway engineering and having lived through privatisation and endless reorganistations I share the concern of the unions about this proposed job cut. Even the Office of the Rail Regulator, while supporting the principle of an efficiency drive, are concerned about the methods Network Rail are using to achieve it. Safety should be everyone's number one concern, in truth not just in lip service. It requires experienced engineers in sensible numbers to make it so, and in my opinion here are already too few of them. It's not hard to see where this comes from; all the way from the bean counters at the DfT.//


    Well, as some-one from the inside of the industry you will recognise that Network Rail is infested with the incompetent, the morally bankrupt and the corrupt! You are right - far to few real engineers in that organisation - mostly intellectually challenged 'yes men' ( and hardly any women) who act as gatekeepers of their private toy! We all know this truth! A National Railway should not be so expensive to run - cost billions to maintain - but the idiots in charge think they are worth a small fortune in salaries and bonuses because they can come up with fantastic ideas - like webcams fitted on the front of trains to check the safety of the tracks! Encountering any signs of intelligence in the rail industry these days is a little like discovering an Oasis in a very large desert!

  • Comment number 63.

    Network rail want to change the way staff work - The unions say it will affect safety so to protect the public they are going on strike to force Network rail to stop the changes.

    As the Unions now decide what is safe and is not - lets scrap the Rail Safety standards board - as it cant be doing it job correctly if the railways are becoming dangerous.

    Or is this just the unions holding the public to ransom ?

    For me - No trains means I cant get to work - so I wont get paid - THANKS

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't believe in Unions being abolished but they all need a reality check with the state this country is in. It is a fact that people need to fight to keep jobs but if this country is to recover then we can not afford all the interuptions to people getting about and carrying on with work and business. Everybody loses there are no winners particularly financially. In this area Corus closed despite all the reaction with no big payments and unions knew it was no use striking it wouldn't help yet 40 miles away the government have given massive grants to have the foreign electric car built here yet they have given the UK order for tanks to the US with vague promises that we will get work from it.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have worked for companies with strong unions involved and been unfortunate to lose my job through redundancy/change with no support from the union especially after the event. My last job which I was made redundant from I did actually receive support from the company but not the union.

    Now I find that being self employed and have some very large meetings arranged for that week which involve travelling to 4 destinations all booked via rail and in the space of 3 days that could effectively improve my new business. I now find that I have to make alternative arrangements yet again and at considerable extra cost and increased stress levels. Who is going to pay me the difference in costs and extra work involved to complete a task that could improve my business which would then need to employ more long term staff. It won't be the union so guess I've been shafted again by them!!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 8:01pm on 25 Mar 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

    "A n argument for compliant inaction and supine acceptance of whatever our masters decree for us. Not too comfortable with that, myself!"

    There's an election in a few weeks time. Replace masters with servants. Look at the Libertarian Party.

  • Comment number 67.

    According to the Guardian (20 June 2009) Bob Crow has a bust of Lenin in his office, and he is a Communist. Which makes me suspect that the timing of the strike is politically motivated.

    Lenin's record is not strong on either workers' rights or health and safety. I can see where Bob Crow is going and it is not towards a safe and modern railway.

    While I appreciate workers rights, passengers have rights too.

  • Comment number 68.


    My reaction? How do we judge?

    It is a recorded fact that we have had bad railway accidents which related to poor track maintenance, to a greater or lesser degree.

    I'm no expert but we've had fatal rail accidents officially attributed to substandard track condition, track that should have been renewed before it killed people. The accidents were followed by extensive track replacements on those lines, to catch up with the maintenance.

    Now we hear that, since then, further track replacement has been postponed for economic reasons. The rail safety authority has suddenly changed sides in the argument. From agreeing with the union that staff cut backs would cause safety issues to agreeing with the management that they would not. I don't know if they were leaned on to change their assessment, but my faith in the honesty of those that govern is now lower than it has ever been.

    I can only judge by facts that I have observed. Some years ago, when it was proposed to contract out hospital cleaning, those that said it would cause problems were laughed at. Even though the government has now poured money into the NHS, we are still trying to recover from that decision, that and the centralisation of hospitals into giant breeding grounds.

    I question whether the savings on hospital costs gained by centralising and moving the labour into the unskilled sector has been more than lost in the cost of controlling rampant hospital infections. I salute those that are trying to turn the tide and restore cleanliness in hospitals.

    OK, your thinking I have drifted from one issue to another. But MY POINT IS the situation is the same in both cases. What may appear to be a good money saving idea often costs more in the end. Beware the bean counters!

    BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, it might be acceptable to experiment with ways to save money, with the failure being the loss of money. IT IS NOT acceptable to experiment with cost savings that will cost lives.

    The strike? I would not like to sit in front of tons of speeding train every time I'm at work. I bow to their judgement, not those that sit safe in an office.

  • Comment number 69.

    60. "It's simple really... "

    Err, not its not.

    Either such alleged simplicity is just trying to impress on HYS or it demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the complex world beyond HYS!

  • Comment number 70.

    Militant union, outdated practices...

    It might be a supposed private company but dependent on its heavily dependent on taxpayers subsidising it.

    Its likely to stop me getting to work and so is far from welcome.

  • Comment number 71.

    29. Andrew Walker
    "Create a law that makes the union calling the strike liable to pay the extra costs that Joe Public incurs getting to work by alternative means"

    And if the strike is deliberately provoked by management, as is the case at BA? Should it not be they who are liable?

    Besides, strikes are not called by unions. They are called by the membership in a democratic secret ballot.

  • Comment number 72.

    63. "lets scrap the Rail Safety standards board - as it cant be doing it job correctly"

    Err, actually it is the Office of Rail Regulation that regulates safety on the railway and the future of RSSB is already in question.

    Dig deep and you'll the ORR has raised some interesting questions and comments of Network Rail and it's re-organisation.

  • Comment number 73.

    # 61. Simon_Carr wrote:
    "Well, it is their legal right to strike, which makes the UK a free country."

    but its not a free country, otherwise employers could get someone else to do the job.
    Freedom in such matters only works one way.

  • Comment number 74.

    30. Snoob
    "These strikes seem to be about nothing in particular..."

    You mean you couldn't be bothered finding out what the issues are. But you, nonetheless, felt qualified to pass judgement.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    It's time the members of the public stood up for their own rights -I wonder how the unions would react if all the public took the union leaders to court over lost earnings/loss of business while their members went on strike. I bet the Union leaders are still getting paid (by the members) whilst the members aren't!!!!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    Whenever my union (UNISON) has balloted for strike action I have been very reluctant to vote 'yes'. In fact only once have I voted for a strike and that was over changes in public employees pension rights. But, I have always followed what the majority (those who actually returned their ballot papers) have chosen and refused to cross picket lines. I do this because I know that these days it is difficult to call a strike and without that right senior managers and company bosses would ride roughshod over their workers. Each year another piece of Government legislation would erode our current working practices and lead to poor conditions, bad rates of pay, bullying, corruption, the constant lowering of standards, no right to redundancy pay and zero return for the good will we show to our employers.

    Many people really dislike the RMT and the likes of Bob Crow. But Bob Crow actually does his job well, is very resourceful and stands up well for the people he represents. While we, the working people, still have rights in this country it is important we do not lose sight of what we have and fight hard to maintain what has been fought for over the last century by trade unions.

  • Comment number 78.

    Not too much sensible comment as usual. Just the same old rant from the political extremes. There has always been sections of poor management and silly unrealistic union behaviour, but at this time with the country falling apart, going on strike is truly illogical. Will damaging the finances of your employer really help your cause? Idealogical dogma will not save jobs.

  • Comment number 79.


    13. At 7:47pm on 25 Mar 2010, ColinWhinger wrote:
    Isn't it strange how so many of the TU's seem to do their best to down a labour government when an election is due.


    It seems to me that a few union barons think a few strikes now will encourage left leaning voters to believe Labour will finaly start to tackle inequality because of their always obvious union ties. While they do this the parliamentry party will hold firm, determind to show they are a strong government.

    All the while Cameron seems to posture with no policy, never nailing anything to the mast, apart from inheritance tax.

  • Comment number 80.

    First BA then civil service then the railways, I ask is there some hidden agenda by the Unions near to an Election ?

  • Comment number 81.

    #46
    "In the last 20 years: An explosion in contract and agency workers with no rights whatsoever, more people in part time/low paid work, total stagnation in wage.............Rejecting unions and turning into subservient self centred consumers has really paid dividends for the ordinary worker."

    A bit contradictory.
    We're generally overpaid for the little we now produce for the rest of the world, and consume vastly more than we contribute.

    Perhaps if people believed in adding more value in their job than it costs to employ them the country wouldn't be in such a mess.
    People seem to feel they're entitled to a job and then don't have to put the work in when they're there, in some cases resisting any efforts to change with the times.
    We're in a global market, hanging on to 1960s working practices, when others move forward and demand a lot less for it, is suicidal for the country

  • Comment number 82.

    31. Richard C
    "I find this all very confusing. Why would unions (any union) make life so difficult for the Labour Party at this moment in time? I don't geddit.
    "

    You don't get it because you don't think about it. You simply assume that the union is to blame. Which, to be fair, is what the media is telling you.

    Go back to your own question. Who gains from this industrial unrest in political terms? The Tories, of course. And who stands to gain from a Tory victory in the election? Private corporations, of course.

    It is not that difficult for management to engineer a strike. They have had plenty practice. It was common practice only a few decades ago.

  • Comment number 83.

    No they absolutely shouldn’t strike and hearing Bob Crow on national TV news this evening only made me think of a man still living in the 1970s: His out of touch and left wing views have no place in modern society and, if he had the intelligence to match his influence in damaging the UK economy, he’d clearly realise the fact.

  • Comment number 84.

    The last place I worked, everyone got their job threatened twice a year. It was called 'appraisals', but was legal cover for 'belt tightening'. What actually happened was the jobs were moved piece by piece to Germany and India. The Germans made the same, but the rent was cheaper. They got most of the work.

    Before that, another place kept trying to cut people without cutting work. Schedules slipped and customers complained until the company went out of business.

    You can bash unions all you want, but when they strike it's the only time you hear about the damage that's being done anyway. In my experience whipping workers doesn't fix what's wrong -- ever. If RMT says cutting staff will bring back train crashes, I believe them.

  • Comment number 85.

    "20. On their side Network Rail says they are trying to change working practices dating back to the steam age. "

    Most of the fundamentals of safe railway operation go back over a hundred years with arguably the greatest change being the move from time interval working (simplistically if a train stops another runs into it) to block working where trains are seperated by signalling.

    Even the high speed line uses a modern equivalent system of control to keep trains seperated!

    Just because the basic principles old it doesn't mean they aren't still effective, relevant or safe.

    There is scope for modernisation but simple job cuts in isolation isn't one of them.

  • Comment number 86.

    yes they should go on strike because these railway people have to work out in all conditions and its extremely hard and dirty work the bosses of the railway company's have no conscience because they keep putting fairs up without reason and moan WHEN THERE RAIL STAFF ASK FOR A LITTLE BIT MORE ITS DISGUSTING THATS THE EVILS OF PRIVATIZATION

  • Comment number 87.

    32. John Knight
    "You have just ruined my 25 wedding anniversary!"

    Unfortunate. But isn't it possible that there may be slightly bigger issues at stake?

  • Comment number 88.

    While the Union may believe they had "no option", only 71% of their members took the time to vote and yet only 54% voted in favour of strike action - hardly a huge vote of confidence - eh lads???
    The Unions, whether it be BA, British Gas, Network Rail or whoever are looking to the public for sympathy but it is us it is affecting. You may find that the public's sympathy is fast running out. I was made redundant twice in six months, am now earning less than two-thirds of what I did last year, am only temping and my husband is the same, having been out of work for a year. Did any of you bother about us or help us out? No I didn't think so!!!!

  • Comment number 89.

    I support the strike, I support the union and I support the workers.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    As I said a few days ago concerning the BA cabin crew staff who withdrew their labour, these railway workers should be sacked immediately and their jobs given to suitably qualified people who wish to work to support their families through this difficult economic time.
    Whoever wins the forthcoming election must do all they can to obliterate the seemingly increasing power of the unions. We need a new Mrs T!

  • Comment number 92.

    I think it is completely inappropriate and "an insult" to describe Bob Crow-bar as a trouble-making Dinoasaur. I have a lot of respect for anyone who stands up for what they believe. Adolf Hitler, Joeseph Stalin. Idi Amin (Dada). Colonel Gadaffi. Benito Mussolini (got the trains to run on time). Fidel Castro. Half a Scargill. President Galtieri. All were just trying to to do their best for their "members".

  • Comment number 93.

    I can't forget watching a TV documentary on Rail Workers. It showed men who were supposed to be doing essential repair drinking alcohol, frittering away their time and doing precious little productive work during their night shift . Investigations showed that it sometimes took months for the simplest task to be completed much to the amusement of these so called workers.
    These too were Union members and where was their concern for public safety then? How can we trust these men when they act in such a dangerous way. They lost my sympathy that night and it will take a lot to regain it.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am one of the "maintenance staff" involved in this dispute. I am a Section Manager (I will refrain from stating my location for what should be obvious reasons) and have many years of experience working on the railway infrastructure.
    I am responsible for ensuring that the signalling systems on my area are maintained and tested routinely to ensure that their integrity is never compromised and that they are reliable and function correctly at all times. The signalling equipment is, in the main, some 30 years old. As it ages some of it requires more attention to keep it running well.
    Network Rail maintains that there will be no watering down of the maintenance carried out but started to implement a project called "ROSE" last year.
    The intention of Project ROSE was to look at the signalling equipment and risk assess if it would be possible to reduce the cycle of maintenance on some of the equipment related to its usage. Sounds fair enough, if a set of points is only used twice a week it surely doesn't require to be maintained at the same level as a set of points on a main line that is used twice every five minutes. That makes sense. However project ROSE has been used wholesale to reduce the maintenance on VIRTUALLY ALL of the equipment. The most recent change has been to the FACING POINT LOCK test. This was done every four weeks but is now reducing for most points to a three monthly cycle.
    Allow me to explain the purpose of a FACING POINT LOCK test. For a train to travel safely over a set of points the blades must be fully closed and locked in that position. During this test the technician will place a guage that is 3.5mm thick between the moveable point switch blade and the fixed stock rail. This should obstruct the blade enough to prevent the lock from engaging and the points being detected electrically as closed and locked thereby preventing signals being cleared for the passage of a train. This test is vital to check the integrity of a set of points.
    If it was possible to obtain detection on a set of points that were not correctly closed and locked the possible end result does not bear thinking about. Imagine that train to be travelling at 90mph with 500 passengers aboard and the wheels ride up the blade, the catastrophe would be unimaginable. And I, as the responsible manager, will be the person who will be charged with manslaughter.
    The proposed reduction in manning levels will not permit me the luxury of overuling ROSE and carrying out these tests and others regardless.
    I will not be exonerated by my companies blatant and irresponsible disregard for public safety. I, with my many years of experience, should know better and would have to carry that burden for the rest of my life.
    Similarly the patrols of the track are being reduced also. Last year the patrollers were briefed that it wasn't necessary to report various "minor" track defects anymore. That very nicely eradicated a few thousand track defects from the records at no cost. Even the most junior of track workers will tell you that minor defects lead, eventually, to major defects.
    The ill fated "Railtrack" found that out to their cost when the financial whizz kids decided that hairline cracks in the railhead at Hatfield weren't really a problem. The passengers on the train that was travelling at 95mph over that rail at the time it broke will have a very different opinion.
    I am a dedicated railwayman that has no political axe to grind nor do I want to strike but strike I will to preserve the safety of passengers travelling on my bit of railway.
    Network Rail described the unions actions as from the "steam age" just in case they hadn't noticed the proposed new staffing levels are also going back to the levels of the steam age as well.

    Theresa Villiers MP (Shadow Transport Secretary) who described the strike action as "irresponsible" would be well advised to keep her ill informed opinions to herself until she actually knows what she is talking about.

  • Comment number 95.

    Unlike many of your contributers, I don't want to comment on the rights or wrongs of this strike without knowing the details, but I would be very cautious indeed about allowing the railway management to follow any course of action which may affect safety standards.
    In the days of the much maligned British Rail, safety standards were excellent, with long periods, sometimes years, going past with no fatal accidents occuring.
    Since privatisation, that record is somewhat tarnished, to say the least, and I think that efforts to restore BRs record should take priority, overriding cost considerations.


  • Comment number 96.

    The RMT has thrown its weight around too long. It has managed to force train costs up through extortianate pay deals going to the RMT members. Why should a train driver be paid 40K a year just because the company holds a monopoly and our weak regulator doesn't block price hikes and subsidises this rip off further. Finally someone is standing up to the bully crow and standing up to the rip off he has forced down their throats. RMT are not the victims. Network rail, the customer and the taxpayer are.

    So I say, why not scrap the subsidy and cap rail prices at inflation. Then reinvest this circa £10bn into deficicit reduction?

    SOURCE: http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/transport-fact-sheet-13.htm

  • Comment number 97.

    Oh Great!
    I have an 8 hour train journey over 3 different trains on the 8th in order to go to the wedding of a very dear friend on the 10th. A friend I haven't seen for nearly 10 years. And now it looks like I won't actually be able to get there.

    On top of this, I have elderly relatives to see that I haven't seen for 12 months.

    I hope the striking workers are thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 98.

    The re-privatisation of Network rail must now be a priority for any future government. After seeing first BA and now the railways, it is clear that the jobs of the people involved are much too secure when they believe that they can hold members of the public and management to ransom.
    Their actions are an abuse of freedom and if their companies cannot survive as credible commercial units then they should be allowed to go to the wall.

  • Comment number 99.

    Several people have commented here that they can't understand why the Unions should want to bring about all these strikes just before an election, as it won't do the Labour Part any good. A very valid point. So, who will it do some good for? The Conservative Party! Now, lets use our brains here, rather than believing the propaganda. Who might be instigating the strikes then? Who is connected with the Conservative Party? Who else is involved in the dispute? The management! Zimple!

  • Comment number 100.

    To #87 (Electric Hermit)

    If you had something special planned that had been planned for months, you'd be a bit miffed that a union has effectively made your plans impossible with 1 weeks notice and when only 43% of their members voted for a strike (only 79% of members voted, and only 54% of those that voted supported the strike).

 

Page 1 of 8

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.