13/02/2011 - Britain’s transport industry faces cutbacks, safety issues and chaos

LAST WEEKEND we featured two articles (Strike against the cuts of 05/02/2011 and Trouble brews amongst Transport staff of 06/02/2010) which mentioned that the forthcoming royal wedding might be hit by a strike involving London Underground tube drivers.  We also noted that other “industrial action may be timed to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics.”

Solidarity Trade Union believes there is justification for industrial action during high profile public events.  However, we’ve hearing whispers that Unite members may now not be walking out on April 29. 
Despite this, we still think that transport workers have legitimate grievances.  These are being fuelled by managers who seem have little or no interest in the workforce.Cutbacks, safety issues and chaos still appear to be the order of the day in Britain’s transport industry.

It appears that profits are being put before people by East Coast, the Government owned train operator.  Catering services on inter-city routes between England and Scotland are under threat, with dozens of restaurant and chef jobs at risk.  Workers feel that this is a case of slashing quality of service to maximise profitability in advance of re-privatisation (possibly some time in May).

First Capital Connect – which operates trains between London, Brighton, Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn – has failed to provide their Revenue Grade employees with suitable on train evacuation training.  According to FCCs web-site one of their aims is to provide a train service that is “safe”.  If some staff are working without adequate training or refresher courses, how safe will a journey be with First Capital Connect?

Edinburgh’s tram system is behind schedule and over budget.  This is due to a dispute between German contractors’ consortium Bilfinger Berger Siemens and city-council owned developer Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie).  In a recent report, Audit Scotland noted that 99% of infrastructure construction works should have been completed by the end of December 2010.  In fact, the figure was about 28%.  Additionally, 74% of the available funding had been spent by the end of last year. 

Solidarity Trade Union would like to encourage all members and supporters to send their industrial and trade union news to us.  Part of the above transport-related article was produced on the basis of information supplied to us by ‘D’.  

Solidarity represents both blue and white collar workers.  We organise across all trades and professions, so we are not tied to one trade.  We believe in one big union.  Therefore, all industrial and trade union news is of interest to us.  Even if we don’t use it for an immediate news article, it remains useful for background research.

Furthermore, we’d also like to build an infrastructure of members or supporters who can supply us with accurate and detailed news relating to their country, region or trade.  This network will prove vital, especially once we start producing our trade-based agitprop publications.

As with our appeal for whistleblowers (see our article This is Solidarity calling ‘N’ of 03/07/2010) the identity of all those who contact us will remain confidential. 

Email: [email protected]