THE RMT railworkers trade union has confirmed that members on Network Rail maintenance have voted by 77% for strike action in response to plans by the company to axe up to 1500 safety-critical jobs and to rip up national agreements on working practices.
The RMT executive is to discuss the next steps in the dispute on Friday March 19.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said yesterday that ‘RMT members were faced with a stark choice in this ballot.
‘They could either sit back and wait for these cash-led maintenance cuts to lead to another major disaster on Britain’s railways or they could vote to take action to stop the attack on rail safety. They have overwhelmingly voted to take action.
‘Nobody should be under any illusions about just how determined RMT members are to win this dispute and to stop this reckless gamble with rail safety.
‘RMT is in no doubt that the cuts programme drawn up by Network Rail would drag us back to the dark days of Railtrack and would make another Hatfield, Potters Bar or Grayrigg disaster an inevitability.
‘That is what this dispute is all about and even the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has had to concede that the botched attempt to bulldoze through these cuts has raised serious safety concerns.’
At the same time the RMT is demanding an end to the Tube Lines privatisation chaos on London Underground.
It demanded that the Tory London Mayor, Boris Johnson, take ‘urgent and decisive’ action to terminate the Tube Lines contract on London Underground as it emerged that LU are calling in forensic accountants to examine allegedly ‘massive and secretive payments to Tube Lines’ shareholders’.
This is after the company was called ‘ailing and failing’ by Transport for London.
The RMT said yesterday that ‘It has become clear that the combined black hole on the Tube Lines contract of £1.7 billion, with £400 million being carried by TfL and the rest by the company, will result in savage cuts and delays to essential upgrade works with dire consequences for Londoners.’
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow commented: ‘There is no point Boris Johnson threatening legal action when what Londoners really want is for the Tube Lines contract to be terminated and the whole disaster of tube privatisation to be put out of its misery once and for all.
‘The company’s repeated failures and delays must surely be grounds enough for them to be fired unless the contract is loaded so heavily in favour of the private sector that they can do exactly as they please regardless of the consequences for the transport system in London.’
Crow concluded that: ‘The crisis at Transport for London is deepening by the day and the time has come for the Mayor to take urgent and decisive action to end this scandal of the Public Private Partnership on the tube.’
That the time has definitively arrived to put an end to the scandal of the PPP on the tube was proven yesterday afternoon when London Underground (LU) announced that between 700 and 800 jobs are to be axed under its plan to make cuts of £16million a year.
Tube officials said the cuts would include 100 managers, 450 ticket office posts and up to 200 other jobs.
Bob Crow commented on the news: ‘If cuts to jobs are bulldozed through by Transport for London it will turn London’s tube stations into a muggers paradise.’
In fact this is what privatisation and the notorious public private partnerships that are its vehicle are all about, an organised mugging of the taxpayer on behalf of big business.
The RMT and all the rail unions need to take united strike action against privatisation and for the renationalisation of the entire rail network, as the only way to restore a safe, secure and economic rail service.
The network will be brought to a standstill when the RMT takes strike action.
This action must lay the basis for national strike action to secure the renationalisation of the entire rail network.