n Equal pay at Network Rail n Better Rail campaign update n Venezuela: another world is possible
Wales: a new model for our railway?
in this issue
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association General Secretary: Manuel Cortes
Joining TSSA T: 020 7529 8032 F: 020 7383 0656 E: email@example.com Your membership details T: 020 7529 8018 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Helpdesk (workplace rights advice for members) T: 0800 3282673 (UK) 1800 805 272 (Rep of Ireland) Website www.tssa.org.uk (UK) www.tssa.ie (Ireland) @TSSAunion facebook.com/TSSAunion
Irish office from Northern Ireland T: +3531 8743467 F: +3531 8745662 from the Republic T: 01 8743467 F: 01 8745622 E: email@example.com TSSA Journal is published by TSSA, Walkden House 10 Melton Street London NW1 2EJ Cover based on a photo by Martyn Spencer / hst43077 Design and production: Wild Strawberry Communications www.wildstrawberry.uk.com Views published in the Journal are not necessarily those of TSSA. Acceptance of adverts for products or services does not imply TSSA endorsement. TSSA Journal is printed by TU Ink on Leipa Ultra Silk comprised of 100% post-consumer waste. The polythene wrapper is oxo-degradable. Vol 109 / Issue 1226
u Fare rise protests
u Save London Transport Museum u Dublin anti-austerity march
u Network Rail in Milton Keynes
u Scottish TUC and Weekend School u Neurodiversity report u futureTSSA
13 General secretary: The change we need in 2013 14–15 Equal Pay in Network Rail 16–18 Better Rail update 19 A New Year’s Resolution: Recruit a friend
10 Tube150: Commemorative coins, stamps and events – but let’s remember the tube’s people, not just the machines
General queries (London ofﬁce) T: 020 7387 2101 F: 020 7383 0656 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
4–12 News and campaigns
Boris Johnson playing with his toy vanity bus whilst forgetting all about London Transport Museum
Ro ya lM
TSSA Journal Editor: Ben Soffa E: email@example.com T: 020 7529 8055 M: 07809 583020
Where stories get read and
Friday December 14, 2012 adver ts get a response
Thurrock’s best read local news website: www.thur rock
45p where sold
Protest on Gazette future of our Best for... stations – see page 5
Property special – starts page 31
Crane calamity at A13 works – P4
SURPRISE! SURPRISE! by LUCY KIRBY
NHS finally confesses: Hospital plan is off
NHS South West Essex finally admitted plans for has community hospital in a new Grays have been shelved. The defunct Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation spent £2million acqui ring a site in Hogg Lane so £40million hospital, origin the scheduled to open in ally Lane, Grays, was not capable 2012, could go ahead. April of meeting future population pressures in the town. But the plans have been It was also hoped it the air since October up in would when NHS South West 2010, take some of the pressure off Essex Basildon Hospital, with announced it was having peoto ple in Thurrock being able make cuts of £52million. to get diagnostics, planned Cllr Barbara Rice, Labou treatr ment, outpatient services or cabinet member for health rehabilitation in Grays instead. a former nurse, is furiou and Since 2010, the Gazet s at the te has decision. She said: “Resid made in Thurrock will be outrag ents NHS numerous enquiries to South West Essex “Thurrock Council, ed. the future of the hospit about along al, but with the PCT and the old we were told each time bosses Development Corpo were still talks. ration put in a great deal of work , But on Monday, NHS to South assemble land for this. West Essex finally admit ted “It’s very disappointin g the plan had been axed. Thurrock residents will Commercial not director have the hospital they wanted Margaret Hathaway said: “I since the closure of Orsett under stand this may come as a “The council takes on . disappointm responsibilities for healthnew dents and ent to local resiwould like to reasin April and we will be looking sure them this decision will not very closely at what can be mean Thurrock will see a done at this site. reduction in health servic es. “We will, of course, be “It is important reside worknts ing with the clinical comm realise we are now sioning group to ensure is- completely differe faced with a resint financ ial dents get the very best landscape to 2006. care.” The idea for the hospit “We must now consid al er devised in 2006 and given was other options that delive the r high go-ahead in 2008, after quality community agreed the borough’s it was for Thurrock reside healthcare current nts.” community hospital, in Long MP’s reaction – p7
Fares campaign is front-page news
20–21 Venezuela: another world is possible 22–23 Wolmar: Private Good, Public Bad? 24–25 Salveson: A new railway model for Wales? 26–27 Advice: Morrish solicitors and Helpdesk 28 Letters
Happy New Year! Here’s to a 2013 that is brighter than last year, in the workplace, the economy and the world. This issue we look at whether Wales might be the first part of the UK to move back from the private franchise model for rail (p24-25) whilst Christian Wolmar reminds us of the large proportion of the network, from the East Coast route to the neverprivatised Northern Ireland Railways, that remains in public hands (p22-23). We also report on huge progress in winning fair and equal pay for members at Network Rail. Huge disparities were uncovered by TSSA and accepted by the company (p14-15) – could something similar be going on in your firm? Our feature on Venezuela (20-21) shows that in contrast to the UK and Ireland, you can have both growth and the protection, and even extension of public services and workers’ rights. The neo-liberal model, with its concentration of power and wealth for the few at the very top is just one way to run a society. What Venezuela shows us, is that successful alternatives aren’t just for dreaming about, but can be built in the real world. Whatever the future holds in store, we all need the strongest union possible – so if there’s one New Year’s resolution you keep, why not make it to ask just one friend to join TSSA. There’s a form on p19 or speedy online joining via our website. Not only does it strengthen us collectively, it means we can be there for them if things don’t go to plan. Our future is in your hands! All that remains for me to say, is to wish you and your family a happy, safe and prosperous new year. Let’s hope its one we can remember for all the right reasons. Ben Soffa, editor
New Year fares hike brings new protests THIS JANUARY SEES the tenth consecutive year in which rail fares have increased above inflation. Hard-pressed passengers are being robbed blind by the government’s fares policy, added to by the TOC’s even bigger rises on unregulated tickets. Fares have now risen 26 per cent since the start of the recession whilst wages have
Labour candidate for Thurrock Polly Billington came out in support of TSSA’s campaign, gaining BBC coverage.
stagnated. Many passengers are now paying several months of their salary just to get to work. These facts have been highlighted by TSSA’s Better Rail campaign and Together for Transport who have been contrasting fare increases with the threat of a worse service if station staff are made redundant by the McNulty cuts. Campaigners have been out across the country campaigning on fares with the support of TSSA’s ‘ghost train’ as part of the ‘Year of Horror’ campaign. This has been visiting stations threatened with ‘ghost’ status by the McNulty report, which recommends removing staff from hundreds of smaller stations. TSSA members were joined by community campaigners, local councillors, and parliamentary candidates when our vibrant and hard hitting campaign headed along the c2c line in Essex. The travelling protest headed out from London Fenchurch Street
to Chafford Hundred, Grays and Thurrock, gaining coverage from BBC Essex, other local radio stations and newspapers (see page 3). By connecting with passengers over fares, and using those who are most involved to form a local coalitions to support their local stations, we not only begin a conversation about the failings of the current fragmented, for-profit model of railways, but find allies for TSSA members on other issues. Building local coalitions who will want to defend services and oppose staff cuts will demonstrate to TOCs and the government that people are willing to take a stand for fairer fares and properly staffed stations – not endless money being diverted into shareholders’ pockets. The latest January initiative from TSSA’s community organisers has partnered with environmental campaigners. This is to highlight not only the monetary cost of the increase, but to link that firmly
with the carbon cost of the policy, coming from a governments supposedly committed to a low-carbon future. With many leading businesses pushing the government to meet carbon reduction commitments there are many unexpected allies who acknowledge that a shift from plane to train won’t happen unless fares are affordable for both individuals and businesses. Working with the Alliance for Jobs and Climate, Climate Rush, ACT!, Bring Back British Rail and others, we have organised protests at stations across Britain at the start of January, using a postcard (pictured) which can be used for several months more. 2013 will see this coalition, lead by the TSSA and Together for Transport, take our campaign on fares and opposing ghost stations to an ever-growing number of towns and cities. 7
To find out how to get involved or order postcards, see www.farefail.org.
news Campaigners outside London’s City Hall where messages of public support for the museum were presented to the TfL board.
‘Save London Transport Museum’ campaign goes to Parliament TSSA IS MOVING up a gear in our campaign to save London Transport Museum. Over the last six months members have responded to the threat to their jobs and pay with an energetic and broad-based campaign, gaining the support of numerous politicians and members of the public. After lobbying the museum's Board of Trustees in September, we set our sights on the real power players in this situation: Transport for London and its chair, Boris Johnson. In December, we gathered hundreds of Messages submitted online by the public were delivered on baubles
Christmas messages of support from the public, presenting them to TfL at their City Hall board meeting, alongside a letter calling on TfL to reinstate the museum's funding. Transport for London has slashed its grant to the museum by 25 per cent for the funding round up to 2016, throwing the museum into crisis. In response, the museum management has proposed a reorganisation and are drawing up plans which threaten job losses and the hiking of the entrance fee to £15. There is also a fear that the museum intends to withdraw from the TfL collective bargaining mechanism – a move that would be vigorously opposed by TSSA. On one front though, museum bosses have had to back down following sustained pressure from TSSA. They had planned to introduce a new ‘Museum Grade’, known as Band 0, which would have slashed the starting salaries of the lowest paid staff by 20 per cent, and set a dangerous precedent for the rest of TfL. However, at a Company Council meeting in early December, the TfL management confirmed categorically that the so-called ‘Museum Grade’ had now been rejected.7
Has your MP signed up yet? By visiting www.tssa.org.uk/LondonTransportMuseum, you can ask your MP to show their backing for London’s transport heritage. You can also show your support by joining our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SaveLondonTransportMuseum.
Take action The money saved by cutting the museum’s funding is a tiny proportion of Transport for London’s (TfL) budget, equating to 0.36 per cent of the amount TfL gave to its subsidiaries last year. Yet the impact on the museum could be devastating, and we are calling on TfL to reinstate the full funding. TSSA has worked with John Cryer MP to put down an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament and is calling on MPs to show their support for the museum. Dozens of MPs have already signed up but we need TSSA members to encourage many more to do the same. You can do this using our simple model email tool at the link below. The EDM reads: ‘That this House notes the funding crisis at London Transport Museum, arising from cuts of 1.5 million over four years and the loss of an Arts Council grant; recognises that the aforementioned sum is a tiny proportion of Transport for London’s (TfL) budget, equating to 0.36 per cent of the amount that TfL gave to its subsidiaries in 2011-12; applauds the major contribution of the museum to the preservation of London’s transport heritage and education in the city’s schools and diverse communities; and calls on the Mayor of London and the TfL board to reinstate the cut funding.’
Dublin march against another austerity budget OVER 18,000 PEOPLE marched through Dublin city centre on 24 November to voice their opposition to austerity and call for a new course for the Irish economy. The protest came just ahead of the announcement of the budget, which when announced, was condemned by ICTU as ‘doing little or nothing for jobs and penalises working families in order to
Are you a single parent? The Single Parent Action Network (SPAN) is seeking information on the barriers & support available for single parents, including working people. To add your voice and views go to www.hillcroft.ac.uk/focus/ SPAN.
subsidise business and employers’. TSSA members, along with other citizens, voiced their anger on the march at an upcoming budget which it was clear would target the least well off and most vulnerable in society. The government can continue to target low and middleincome earners, or it can implement the correct policies, which would ensure that those who have more pay more. It is clear that austerity is not working and that an alternative is needed. ICTU general secretary David Begg pointed out that ‘After six austerity budgets we have seen some
360,000 jobs lost, some €28 billion extracted from the economy and yet we have made minimal impact on the deficit.’ The march was organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and supported by the ICTU, TSSA and other trade unions, political parties, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed and groups and individuals from around the country. Michael O’Reilly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) said it was just one step in a long campaign to reverse cutbacks. ‘The evidence is clear – you cannot cut your way out of a recession,’ he told protesters gathered outside the GPO on O’Connell Street.
‘On the contrary: with each cut in public spending, and with each euro taken out of the pockets of low and average earners in new or increased taxes, we are digging ourselves further into a hole.’ ICTU have announced plans to hold a series of major demonstrations on February 9, to demand a restructuring of Ireland’s debt burden as ‘a prerequisite for recovery and a necessary condition for the maintenance of social cohesion’. The demonstrations are planned for Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford and are timed to coincide with the next EU Council of Ministers’ meeting.7
Franchising: inquiry finds chaos, TOCs may now want short contracts THE DfT COMMISSIONED inquiry into the West Coast fiasco has blamed inadequate planning, the department’s complex structure and weak governance framework for the £55m mess. The Laidlaw report found ‘the people the ministers were asking questions of were themselves misinformed’, yet failed to report many details after the department censored sections of the report ‘to protect the commercial confidentiality of bidders’ and ‘to remove the identity of certain individuals’. The chair of Parliament’s Transport Committee said the report suggested a ‘culture of fear’ at the DfT, to which Sam Laidlaw replied that there was certainly a culture in which junior staff felt inhibited from raising issues with senior colleagues. Separately, it has been reported that the Rail Delivery Group of industry bosses have told Eurostar chairman Richard Brown, who the DfT have tasked with reviewing franchising in general, that they now favour short contracts. Previously, companies argued that long franchises were essential for their financial planning and investment. Now however, the West Coast fiasco – and the potential that firms may have to put up increased ‘deposits’ in case they walk away from a contract – has convinced many that short franchises for standard commuter services (not necessarily all routes) is their best chance of maintaining their profits. 7
TSSA’s community organising gains global attention TSSA MEMBERS RECENTLY took part in the rail and road workers conference of the global union alliance, the International Transport Workers’ Federation. The meeting in Toronto brought together 200 delegates from 76 unions in 44 countries. On his return, TSSA Treasurer Mick Carney told the Journal, ‘What I found out was that despite our many cultures and creeds, our problems remain almost the same. Nearly all governments are following a neo-liberal agenda, with working people being asked to pay the price for the greed of the bankers. Argentina for example, has cut 4/5ths of its railway staff. Workers in Zimbabwe haven’t been paid for five months and counting and even Indian Railways, whilst still heavily staffed, are looking to make drastic cuts despite their economy still growing
Steph Owens, Mick Carney and Manuel Cortes represented TSSA at the ITF
strongly. Across the globe, it is the same picture, with a few notable exceptions: Venezuela’s socialist government has continued to expand its railway system and China, whilst paying scant regard to health and safety, continues to grow at a rapid rate.’ Mick presented TSSA’s community organising strategy to the conference. Even with the speech needing to be transmitted through
many interpreters, it was well received to the extent that Mick has now been appointed to the ITF community organising team. Mick adds: ‘After the conference I decided to stay on for a few days. Being a railway worker I decided I would take a trip out on the rails. It was here I found one of he most disturbing aspects of Canadian rail: ‘bustitution’. Even getting out on one of the supposedly
main lines from Toronto during the morning peak, many of the ‘trains’ are actually buses. Whilst all public transport is to be supported, chipping away at the system like this threatens the appeal and viability of those services that remain as actual trains. In total, just eight trains a day run in and out of Canada’s largest city – a very worrying trend we must be on our guard over.’7
Record-breaking recruiter retires RAY BARBER, TSSA’S long-standing recruiter, has retired after bringing in an estimated 15,000 new members over his career. A former lay activist and officer of the Lancashire and Cumbria Management Staff branch, since working for the Association Ray has travelled tens of thousands of miles a year and visited hundreds of workplaces. His retirement was marked with a presentation by general secretary Manuel Cortes and speeches from colleagues, including TSSA policy adviser Neil Davies. Neil said, ‘I’d like to pay tribute to Ray for his sheer hard work and his phenomenal track record. There are very few gates or doors that he hasn’t eventually got through in the quest to talk to potential members –I can only think that one of his greatest influences must have been Houdini!’7
All systems go at Milton Keynes JUST A FEW months on from Network Rail’s big move to ‘MK: The Quadrant’, there are now hundreds of TSSA members on the site, with a growing range of activities – from advice sessions to learning opportunities. Rep Angela Belcher told the Journal, ‘I’ve been working with local rep Steve Smith
and TSSA organiser Madeleine Richards to meet staff around the building to discuss their issues. We’ve already had several ‘drop in’ sessions during lunchtimes, where members can come along and air their issues, hear what is going on, or just meet TSSA reps and staff members. There’ll be more coming up,
which we’ll be advertising on the general noticeboard at the end of ‘the street’.’ As a direct result of a TSSA Learning initiative, 13 members of staff at Milton Keynes have signed up and are working through both Customer Service and Business Administration NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications). There are further places on a variety of courses now available, which need to be signed-up for by the end of January. Angela continued, ‘Another of our colleagues at The Quadrant has become TSSA’s first ever equality representative, and has made a great start by running a lunchtime session to discuss with members the independent report into
diversity and inclusion at Network Rail. The company is currently reviewing its policy following this report and I know that TSSA at all levels is committed to helping them follow through on the problems raised in the investigation.’ 7
To find out more or if you’d be interested in taking on a role, contact Angela Belcher on angela.belcher@ networkrail.co.uk or for equality issues, email Steve Smith on steve.smith3@ networkrail.co.uk.
Award for 48 years of service PETER GODDARD WAS awarded a TSSA Gold Medallion and a tankard in recognition of many years service. Peter is retiring having been in the rail industry for 48 years. He started with BR Shipping Division in 1964 and has been a TSSA member for all 48 years. The presentation was made by TSSA senior regional organiser Iain Anderson, who first worked with Peter when he began his own railway career 36 years ago. Peter has been Southern House No 1 branch correspondence secretary, Victoria branch chair for nine years, financial secretary for 10 years, organising secretary for nine years and branch organiser for two years. For Southern Inner Branch, financial secretary for 13 years. Also a divisional council rep for 12 years, company rep three years and a local health and safety rep for 10 years.7
Railway Employees Privilege Ticket Association Available to all in the transport industries, TSSA members, family and retired staff. REPTA offers many free, discounted and special rates, listed in our 80 page Yearbook, sent with your membership card. New for 2013: membership discounts at National Railway Museum, free Limited Personal Accident cover for travel on public transport. Discount cinema tickets continue for 2013. You can book rail travel with Raileasy via our website. £4.50 per year. Additional cards for family members £3. Send cheques/POs to REPTA, 4 Brackmills Close, Forest Town, Mansfield NG19 0PB. Tel 01623 646789, giving name, address, email and DoB for each plus code ‘TSSA’ or join at www.repta.co.uk.
Correction: In the last issue we incorrectly stated the awards given to members of Wessex Branch. John Walsh received a Silver Medallion whilst Roger Lock was awarded Honorary Life Membership. Our apologies to them.
Scotland Learning and debating at the Scottish Weekend School
Margaret Anslow and Karan Park
Scottish TUC Women’s Conference success THIS YEAR THE STUC Women’s Conference was held in the picturesque and historic city of Perth. Margaret Anslow, Executive Committee member for Scotland told the Journal, ‘I was lucky to attend alongside ‘new girl’ (to conferences) Karan Park, whose enthusiasm, ideas for the future and moves on the dance floor, made my attendance at this year’s conference a truly memorable one!’ Margaret was elected onto the STUC Women’s Committee, winning a place to represent the female members of the Association over the next year. Margaret has said she hopes to link in with Women In Focus members in Scotland as well as the Scottish Women’s Convention, of which she is also a member. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Women in manufacturing’, with a smooth-flowing agenda meaning 29 motions were passed, some of which have already been submitted to the Scottish Parliament. A number of MSPs attended including Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont and SNP Finance Minister John Swinney plus Margaret Curran MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Margaret says ‘Karan might have been a first time delegate, but delivered the speech on our motion absolutely brilliantly. I would encourage all Scottish TSSA female members to attend in future and also to join me in the Scottish Women’s Convention, to make our voices properly heard in our parliament’. 7
TSSA’S SCOTTISH DIVISIONAL Council recently combined its regular meeting with a ‘weekend school’ to give an opportunity for delegates to discuss issues ranging from branch development to the impact of the independence referendum. Event organiser David Gamble takes up the story, ‘It was a great weekend, with plenty of learning and exchanging of ideas. We even to have some nice food and the odd drink, with a bit of socialising taking place.’ As well as Divisional Council members, including several firsttime delegates, Lorraine Ward, the newly appointed assistant general secretary for Scotland and Ireland attended, as did TSSA treasurer Mick Carney. ‘We enjoyed a lively Divisional Council meeting with plenty of ideas exchanged and a presentation from Mick on the state of the union and its finances. After that, we held our first group session of the ‘school’ element of the event, where delegates were looking at branches. We focussed both on what we could do to improve branch structures and also how we could grow membership through branches. Some excellent ideas came up with both long-term strategies and some ‘quick wins’ being discussed.’ Rail industry delegates heard from senior regional organiser Tom Kennedy on the upcoming report into Scottish railways, followed by a presentation on TSSA’s Better Rail Campaign from Mick Carney. Delegates started to form an action plan by identifying several key issues from the rail report which they could campaign around, linking those to themes already being highlighted via Better Rail. David Gamble continued, ‘Our final session was always likely to be quite emotive, given we were discussing matters around the 2014 independence referendum. The session was lead by David Moxham from the STUC who highlighted many of the issues that will affect unions and their members. This was just the first of a series of discussions that need to happen as Scotland shapes its future, and we as the Scottish members of the TSSA help shape our union’s stance on this huge issue.’ He added, ‘I hope other Divisional Councils following suit with their own weekend schools as they are a great way of developing knowledge, ideas and contacts’.7 Delegates to both the Weekend School and STUC Women’s Conference met in Perth
THIS MONTH MARKS the 150th anniversary of the oldest stretch of the London Underground, with numerous commemorations of the world’s oldest underground railway taking place. The Metropolitan Railway between Paddington and Farringdon was the forerunner not just of the many lines that spread across London, including the first deep ‘tube’ of 1890, but to systems the world over. Today, in terms of track, London still has the biggest (and arguably the best) passenger rail system in the
world, carrying more passengers every day than the whole National Rail network. The fact that the system and indeed London is as successful as it is, is testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff who run the system day in, day out. The celebrations are a good time to remind people why a safe, publicly owned and properly staffed Underground system is vital to London’s continued success. As part of this, TSSA will be pushing for the recognition of the vital role played by Underground staff in delivering a quality
public service for the millions of passengers who use the Tube every day. While the official celebrations will focus on the development of technology and the expansion of the network, TSSA is organising a number of special events to celebrate the achievements of Underground workers. We want to hear your stories about working or travelling on the Underground. What does the Tube mean to you? Tell us your experiences at www.tssa.org.uk/tube150. 7
Ro yal Min t
Tube150: Celebrate people, not just machines
The Royal Mint are producing 325,000 of each of two £2 coin designs, meaning a total of £1.3m of ‘tube stock’ will be circulating around peoples’ pockets.
To get involved or find out more, please contact Wayne Geoghegan, on firstname.lastname@example.org or Luke Chester on email@example.com.
Neurodiversity report launched in Parliament TSSA’S NEURODIVERSITY TEAM, who work to improve workplace conditions for members with a range of hidden disabilities like dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s syndrome, held a highly successful meeting in Parliament in early December. Hosted by former TSSA regional organiser Julie Hilling MP, the event saw the launch of research carried out for TSSA by Heriot-Watt University. This explored the knowledge and attitudes towards neurodiversity and the perception of support that is offered. The findings of this will now be used to help draw up a strategy to assist members with these conditions. Neurodiversity organiser Sarah Hughes reported, ‘The event was ‘standing room only’ as members, employers, MP’s and partner agencies attended. Our speakers, Jo Tick and Ricky Jones,
both spoke with great emotion and courage about what it’s like being a dyslexic and were able to impress on everyone the importance of developing the correct support and understanding in the workplace.’ Dr James Richards, Dr Kate Sang and Professor Abigail Marks, who carried out the research provided an insight into the results, with TSSA’s Sarah Hughes and Susannah Gill giving a presentation on the TSSA strategy, which is financially supported by the Union Learning Fund. This involves raising awareness, developing training and resources, working with partner agencies, influencing government policies to adequately support these members’ needs. The vision was painted in which everyone knows what neurodiversity is, and has a point of contact in the workplace (either a trained union rep, or a neurodiversity champion) to go to if they feel that they are or might be neurodiverse. This person will then be able to help them receive a diagnosis and reasonable adjustments at work, which would be made by employers who have become aware of their responsibilities to these workers. 7
i You can read the report at www.tssa.org.uk/neurodiversity
or contact Susannah Gill on firstname.lastname@example.org / 07590 224268 or Sarah Hughes on email@example.com / 07590 183727.
futureTSSA get organised in Liverpool YOUNG TSSA MEMBERS recently met in Liverpool to plan their activities for the year ahead. The futureTSSA annual general meeting was followed by a number of workshops and planning sessions. Top priorities were growing the number of young members involved in the union’s Better Rail campaign as well as reaching out to involve more new members, including apprentices. Delegates also discussed campaigning techniques for winning better environmental policies in the workplace, and how to spread our message in support of a more affordable publicly owned transport system amongst the public. A new committee was elected, with Gary Kilroy, a member in Network Rail,
being chosen as the new chair. He replaces outgoing chair Michelle Croft (First Great Western), who said, ‘Over the past year we’ve worked to increase futureTSSA’s profile, making sure younger activists are included in what the union is doing to campaign against job cuts and high fares. In Liverpool we committed to actively support the Better Rail campaign and had some really useful practical planning. With 2013 being the ‘Year of Horror’ there’s lots to get involved with – I think activists will have a lot fun along the way!’ She added: ‘I’m pleased to be leaving futureTSSA in Gary’s very capable hands and would encourage any young member to make 2013 the year you get active.’ It wasn’t all business. As the picture shows, some futureTSSA activists were
Is your ur local bus? ith cuts to yo e? iv ns pe ex d Frustrated w ercrowded an ov y is? ne th ur ge jo train w to chan e to learn ho Would you lik blic er to make pu anding togeth e to our m Co People are st . ne yo er for ever transport bett day. ry campaign to uc od tr free in
London: Saturday 13 2 February 20 York: Saturday 2 March 2013
able to soak up the Beatles-related atmosphere on Mathew Street and pay a visit to the famous Cavern Club.7
futureTSSA is the self-organised group for members of TSSA aged 35 and under. To get involved email the new chair, Gary Kilroy, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timeline of government attacks launched
COURSE FREE TRAINING
PUBLIC TRANSPORT G CAMPAIGNIN
Members of futureTSSA meet in Liverpool
TSSA has teamed up with Campaign for Better Transport to launch a training programme to support those who want to improve their campaigning skills to back public transport in their communities. Topics to be covered include identifying and working with allies; influencing decision-makers; and using the media effectively. The first training sessions take place in London on 2 February and in York on 2 March. If you are interested in attending, email email@example.com.
AN INTERACTIVE ONLINE timeline of the Tory-led government’s attacks on our rights at work as been launched by the labour movement thinktank, the Institute of Employment Rights (IER). The timeline tracks over 100 proposals, policies, u-turns and backbench whispers which relate to trade union rights, health and safety, equality and public sector cutbacks.7
You can view the timeline at www.ier.org.uk/resources/ coalition-timeline.
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The change we need in 2013 Firstly, can I wish you and all your loved ones a very peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year. 2013 looks set to be very challenging for both you and your union. In response, we will redouble our campaigning efforts to ensure you get a good deal at work and that your livelihood is protected as much as possible in these extremely uncertain economic times. A good example of what we have in mind is what our activists within the Better Rail campaign have agreed to deliver – an action each and every week and a major event 13 times a year. Ambitious? It certainly is. However, to defeat the horror cuts agenda of this government we need to be ambitious in our campaigns. I am convinced that if we all put our shoulders to the wheel, it will become a reality. Our campaigning activities will continue to develop throughout 2013 and beyond. I will also be working extremely hard with your Executive Committee to ensure you have a strong voice into the future as we start moving towards securing a merger. This means 2013 will be an incredibly busy year! On the economic front, forecasters are predicting a very rough ride. Unfortunately, we don’t even have the prospects of an Olympics to provide some summer cheer. In fact, if the Government’s Autumn Statement is to be believed, the UK economy will grow more slowly than originally thought, meaning their austerity plans will now last until at least 2018 – a lost decade. The scale and depth of the cuts in both Britain and Ireland will leave gaping wounds in our social fabric that will take years, if not decades, to heal. Yet in the UK this April, 8000 people earning over a million pounds a year are in line to receive a year-on-year tax cut worth an average of £107,500. The UK Government also intends to cut Corporation Tax to 21 per cent in 2014, making it one of the lowest rates in the entire industrialised world. Of course, it was the bankers’ greed that brought our economies to the edge of the abyss. However, it appears that very little has changed for them. Their six figure salaries and mega-bonuses roll-on come rain or
‘In 2013 we will redouble our efforts to protect your livelihood in these uncertain times.’
‘There is a greater chance of a dodo flying into Downing Street than there is of our economies bouncing back due to consumer spending.’
shine. The notion that ‘we are all in this together’ rings hollower by the nanosecond! The real big issue that many of us wonder about is whether there is an alternative to this economic madness? Lack of demand lies at the heart of the economic crisis facing the UK, Ireland and the rest of the Eurozone. Sadly, this has resulted in some of our friends and family finding themselves out of work through no fault of their own. We have also witnessed headcount reductions in both the transport and travel industries that have seen our members lose their jobs. Until very recently, consumer spending was seen as the panacea that would always generate enough demand to keep our economies going. However, with millions across Europe saddled with huge debts and falling living standards, this no longer looks to be any kind of credible solution. In fact, there is a greater chance of a dodo flying into Downing Street than there is of our economies bouncing back due to consumer spending. It is therefore up to governments to step in to bridge the gap if we are to see any kind of speedy recovery. This is exactly what Obama had in mind when he got elected in 2008. Unfortunately, to win sufficient political support among Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats, his plans were watered downed. In the end, after many compromises, he did get something onto the statue book that was far less ambitious that he probably would have liked or was needed. This meant that what is commonly known as ‘the stimulus’ (over $540 billion in extra spending and $275 billion in tax cuts) was somewhat stymied. Nonetheless, the US economy is more or less back to health, whilst the UK is facing the real prospect of a triple-dip recession and Ireland is stuck in what seems a never-ending slump. Last November, Obama once again easily beat his Republican challenger by rejecting Romney’s calls for cuts at all costs – the mantra the Tories so much cherish. The message from the US is clear; austerity is a blind alley. Will Cameron, Clegg or Eurozone ministers ever listen?7
Equal pay for equal work Campaigning for equal pay in Network Rail
Gender pay equality is guaranteed by law (and has been for over 40 years), but the gender pay gap in Britain remains amongst the highest in the European Union. According to the Fawcett Society, the current gender pay gap – the average difference between men and women’s pay – is 14.9 per cent. TSSA believes in fairness and justice for all our members and we want to end unlawful unfair and unequal pay in the industries where we organise. Over the past two years we have been collecting information from managers in Network Rail about the different rates of pay they receive for jobs with exactly the same title and job description. That information has demonstrated a consistent pattern of unequal pay – with women mostly, but not entirely, being paid less than men for the same type of work. However, for a long time, Network Rail insisted there was not an equal pay
problem among their management grades. We disagreed – and recognised that if we were to get fair pay for members, we needed to get organised.
As time went on more women (and a few men) also raised grievances and we served further legal documents on their behalf.
Starting with surveys Suspecting that we would find a pattern of unequal pay, we started by conducting an anonymous survey of our management grade members, asking them to pass the survey on to colleagues, whether they were in TSSA or not. Some 1200 people sent us details of their gender, job title and pay rate. While a few men were paid less than their women colleagues, the broad pattern was that women were paid an average of £4,500 less than the men for essentially doing the same work. After reviewing the data we undertook a series of much more specific surveys. We sought more detailed information for seven job titles and have received over 200 responses – with more coming in as time goes on. We also asked members to commit to act either as a claimant and a comparator in an employment tribunal case.
Network Rail’s collective response At this point the company told us that, if we would stop actively seeking further potential claims, they would talk to us about developing a new pay and grading system – and this time it would be equality proofed. Naturally, we agreed but we wanted more – and we got it. We now have an Equal Pay Working Group with four reps whose role is to concentrate on this project. We have trained them in the principles of equal pay legislation and developing an equality proof pay and grading system.
Statutory questionnaires and grievances Our solicitors – Morrish – assisted with designing grievance letters for an initial group of 14 women who had responded to the detailed survey. They also formulated statutory questionnaires seeking information about other employees’ pay and the gender breakdown of their job title.
Network Rail’s response to individuals In a well-meaning attempt to placate some of the individual members with grievances, ad hoc payments averaging £5,000 have been made. That’s all very well, but it does nothing to address the core problem of an idiosyncratic and out of control pay system impacting on large numbers of staff, it is merely an admission of culpability. We are now talking seriously to Network Rail about a full and proper settlement of the 33 current grievances, but the amounts due need to be factually calculated and dealt with systematically alongside the development of a pay and grading structure.
Equal pay Legal strategy Underpinning the campaign so far has been our legal strategy, which is why we have got as far as we have. Network Rail knows we are more than likely to win any cases we submit to employment tribunal. They know this because they are all too aware their pay system does not meet the Equality and Human Rights criteria for equality proofing, some of which appear in our tick box feature on this page. There is a time limit of six months in which an employee can make a claim for equal pay once they leave their employment, and where they have been subjected to unequal pay. Because of this we have submitted three ET claims already, for managers who have left or been made redundant this year. Wining equal pay is not just about income, as a settlement can include an element of back pay (up to six years in some cases) and for those in the Railways Pension Scheme it will have a significant impact on their pension on retirement. Get involved At TSSA HQ, we cannot solve the whole problem, but we can get further if you share our determination to win fair and equal pay across the industry. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help. In the New Year we will be holding meetings across Network Rail with a view to finding out what our members’ experience is of unfair and unequal pay at the company and discussing what a fair, transparent, objective pay system would look like. If you work for an employer other than Network Rail, then please complete the quick tick box, right, to get an idea whether your employer is acting in compliance with their equality obligations. If they fail our quick test it may be that pay in your company is also unfair and quite probably undervaluing the work of women. Let us know by contacting email@example.com. 7
i For more information of equal pay in general, see www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/ equalpay.
Equal pay checklist The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website contains a very useful checklist designed to alert organisations to the ‘high risk’ factors which indicate that the way they deal with pay could well lead to successful claims for equal pay being made to an employment tribunal (ET). The checklist applies to all organisations whether they are in the private or public sector organisations, whether they are large or small. Transparency EHRC guidance says employees and their representatives should have ready access to information about: l each aspect of the pay structure l the underpinning ‘equal work’ assessment tool. In addition, representatives should receive regular data on the gender impact of each aspect of pay. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c Different and non-basic pay and T&Cs Where there are different elements paid in addition to basic pay, the guidance suggests employers should identify the predominant gender of each job group that receives the additions and use that information to determine the disparate impact, based on gender and other protected characteristics. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c Long, overlapping pay scales and ranges Employers should avoid long overlapping pay scales. They necessarily mean that people at the top of one scale are earning more than people at the bottom of the higher grade. Not only is this likely to be discriminatory, but will also be a disincentive for staff to take promotion. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c Discretionary pay EHRC guidance provides that any devolvement of pay to local managers has potential for inconsistent outcomes and often results in pay discrimination. It suggests that devolved aspects of pay like merit awards and performance assessments should be checked for their impact on characteristics like gender, ethnicity and age. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c Market based pay While market based pay may be a defence against an equal pay claim in an ET, such a system would only be acceptable where the practice is directly accountable to a shortage of particular skills at a particular time. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c Up to date Job Evaluation Scheme A valid job evaluation system is essential to achieving a pay system that does not discriminate on the basis of gender. The evaluation must be based on real job information and a determination of grading by weighing up demands such as skill, knowledge, responsibility and effort. Postholder’s input to the job evaluation and grading process is also required. Detailed records of the jobs and their evaluation must be kept to support the decisions made about the job grades, and to allow for employee appeals against the process. Does your employer’s pay system comply? Yes c No c
Better Rail Former TSSA organiser, now MP Julie Hilling: ‘Keep on and on at your MPs’
Better Rail: demanding fair conditions for us all Better Rail Convention On 29 November representatives from TOCs, freight and infrastructure companies, BTP, TfL, London Underground and Network Rail came together to discuss the common standards we want to see for workers across the rail industry. General secretary Manuel Cortes opened the convention with a message of thanks to all reps and members involved in Better Rail, but also a challenge to keep up our fight throughout the ‘Year of Horror’ in 2013: ‘Not only will we have one action a week every week in 2013, but, with your help, we will be hold over a dozen major events in our fight for a better railway.’
Creating and wining industry standards As part of the Better Rail campaign we are fighting for ‘Better Jobs’ that enable staff to deliver a quality public service. To win better jobs, TSSA reps are developing a set up industry standards – things we think all rail workers should be entitled to, no matter where they work. As the government insist on cuts being made by franchise holders and new bidders, an easy option is for them to attack workers’ terms and conditions to an even greater degree than they have since privatisation. What is an industry standard? Our TSSA reps have been telling us they feel there should be standard terms and
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle on the possibility of public ownership
conditions for all rail workers around issues like the setting of hours of work, pay, rosters, overtime, annual leave, sick pay, travel facilities, union rights, recognition and facilities and more. Every time TSSA members go into collective bargaining we have an opportunity to move towards agreeing terms and conditions that work for everyone – but we also face threats from individual employers who are interested in cutting costs and increasing the profits of shareholders. If we all join together to fight for Better Jobs that meet our standards, then we are closer to building a better railway that’s a quality public service. By developing official standards for each issue, we help our company council reps to build a better railway through collective bargaining. Each standard will include a statement of the principles behind the standard and then ways we can achieve them through bargaining and general company engagement throughout the year. At the Better Rail Convention we discussed two standards that are amongst the top issues raised by our reps: Job Security and Trade Union Rights. For each, we identified Gold (TSSA Standard), Silver and Bronze (minimum conditions) standards.
Better Rail Better Rail group
Early examples of the kinds of standards we want to develop include: l Trade Union Rights The principle behind our standard is that all members and potential members should feel free to fully exercise their rights to belong to and participate in their union. We can achieve this through agreements with management that include access to new staff inductions, statements of their support for employees to join the TSSA and formulating ways in which employers can ensure there is no interference when union reps are seeking release to undertake their union duties. Gold – our TSSA standard Trade union access agreement with employer. Allowing recruitment and sharing of union information with all employees Silver – medium term goals Agreement to have union reps attend at new staff inductions and ability to meet new starters Bronze – minimum standard Adequate release time for reps to conduct union business and training. l Job Security
The principle behind our standard is that members should be able to expect permanent, skilled jobs, with career opportunities and flexible working. We can achieve this through many mechanisms, including fighting for opportunities to develop and learn, agreements for no compulsory redundancies and ensuring there are agreed limits on the use of short hours, casual and agency work arrangements. Reps at the convention spent time debating what should be our Gold standard for Job Security.
A Working Group was established to develop standards over 2013 in consultation with reps, branches and members of TSSA. If you want to have your say you can: l conduct the Better Rail Workplace Survey in your workplace. The information gathered will help us develop the standards; l send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure they are discussed at the next working group meeting. Manjit Gill’s account of the convention: It was a really brilliant event which brought together members from across the rail industry to work collectively towards building Better Rail Industry Standards. Manuel Cortes lifted spirits by talking about the great tide of optimism that almost everyone is now calling for some form of public ownership of the railways. Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, spoke about winning the hearts and minds of MPs over to the cause of public ownership. Labour are currently reviewing their policy for the next general election but she told us, ‘the door is open for the idea of public ownership – we need your views to shape Labour Policy. Go to our policy review website www.yourbritain.org.uk and tell us what you think.’ She encouraged us all to join campaign groups on the subject and spoke about the toxic waste on the railways. She wishes us to raise our voices and to put pressure on the backbenches so the message was coming through at all levels in the Labour Party. It is clear that we have a strong and devoted shadow minister who will fight tooth and nail for a better railway.
Julie Hilling MP – who until the last election was a TSSA official – spoke about the shambles of the West Coast franchise and the £186 million retained in the system by the East Coast being in public hands. She said members should be doing much more to engage with their MPs, telling us, ‘it’s not as simple as explaining to them once. You need to visit not just once, but continually, to keep it on their priority list’. No one had been to see her to talk about public ownership since her election in 2010 – many MPs need to feel pressure to support the end of privatisation. The exercises we did in working groups further reinforced the huge differences between our companies. We must all work towards bringing everyone up to the Gold Standard. Assistant general secretary Steve Coe quantified the billions of unnecessary public spending lost due to the structure of the industry. I was shocked to discover the scale of the profits now leaving the country due to the various foreign-owned TOCs. We were given full support by Matt Dykes of the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign and heard about the vital piece of the jigsaw that is the work of Rob Jenks and TSSA’s Community Organising team. We must be prepared to involve as many people from as diverse a set of organisations as possible to build the links and support networks that will help us win. The battle is on to expose the huge waste due to the fragmentation of the railways and to deal with the growing threat to the 600 ticket offices earmarked for closure by McNulty. It will be fantastic to be involved in some of the 13 major actions planned next year. A visit by the TSSA Ghost Train will definitely be the icing on the cake! Better Rail here we come!
Ghost-train-poster (left). Polly Billington, Labour’s candidate for Thurrock at the next election (above) supporting a visit of the Ghost Train, in an event that made the local press and BBC radio
What members have been saying about the Better Rail Convention We had very positive and productive sessions which saw great ideas about industry standards. It was great to see a working group established to expand on the ideas. Michele Croft, TSSA workplace rep and Future TSSA The Convention was good as it had all the divisions of TSSA that work on rail attending. Ideas and issues were raised, and some resolved. It was really good for team building and networking. Karon Smith, workplace rep, British Transport Police 31 delegates, representing 22 different employers, five speakers, all seeking one industry standard for a Better Rail. Together we will achieve so much more! Michael Litchfield, Brighton Branch chair Great to see top reps working together for members. We’ve got more and more reps taking the lead in exposing the folly of privatisation.
Ghost Train touring the UK to fight horror fares and station staff cuts The new year marks the start of our Year of Horror 2013! To highlight the ghostly trains created by unaffordable fares and ghost stations caused by cuts to station staff, our TSSA Ghost Train is going to tour stations across Britain, spreading the message to passengers and community groups about the benefits of public ownership of rail. The Ghost Train was launched at the TUC march on October 20 where it generated a fabulous reception from other marchers and the general public. Recently we took the Ghost Train to visit c2c stations in Essex and to the London Transport Museum where it again received very positive attention and local media coverage.
i Want the Ghost Train to visit your station? Request a stop via www.tssa.org.uk/ghosttrain The Ghost Train is sponsored by Lush Cosmetics who support activism for public transport and the environment.
Better Rail Workplace Survey Responses to our survey are coming in bundles from reps who have been talking with their workmates each day, helping them complete the surveys. So far, our results are showing a mix of everyday problems and bigger industry-wide issues. These include: l workplace issues –staffing levels –training for staff –health and safety, security –pay –kitchen facilities l How to make a better railway? – oppose threat of cuts to staff – public ownership of the railways – stop ‘automation’ of the railways – simplify fares –invest in infrastructure
If you would like to do the survey in your workplace, sign up for a survey pack on www.tssa.org.uk/better-rail.
Pass this form on to a colleague who isn’t yet a member
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Venezuela TSSA recently welcomed a delegation of Venezuelan trade unionists, hearing how their society in being transformed for the better – with investment in public transport a major priority.
Venezuela: building a fairer society for all Supporters of the Socialist Party of Venezuela held vast rallies ahead of October’s election.
For decades, Venezuela’s oil wealth benefited only a few at the top of the country, but in recent years power and wealth have been redistributed for the benefit of the majority of its people. Whilst much of the world has been privatising their public services and attacking workers’ rights, Venezuela has been showing that another world is possible as they strive to build a ‘socialism for the 21st century’. The Journal spoke with Jacobo Torres and Carlos Lopez when they visited TSSA’s Walkden House in December. Jacobo represents the Venezuelan equivalent of the TUC and is also on the executive of the ruling Socialist Party of Venezuelan (PSUV). Carlos is the President of the Federation of University Workers and also chaired the commission which drafted the country's new Labour Law, one of the most progressive of its kind in the world. Journal: In Britain, ordinary working people are struggling with cuts to many of our basic services and have restricted rights at work. Venezuela seems to be on a very different course – how so?
had a socialist government have been about recuperating our country and building democratic control over our main economic activities. Seeing what’s happening now in Europe, it looks exactly like what happened to us in the 90s. The most important thing is that we’re affirming that another world is possible – and that’s what we’re building in Venezuela. We have a concept which goes against the way that social problems are being tackled in Europe or the US. We keep hearing that in order to save the economy, we have to reduce public expenditure, but instead in Venezuela we’ve enshrined education, healthcare and many other areas as fundamental human rights in our constitution, not as things which can be taken away. Spending in these areas is not a ‘waste’ of expenditure, but a social investment in our people. For the past eight quarters our economy has been growing – all without sacrificing any of these rights, even in the depths of the crisis. Even when our national income dropped due to the slump in the oil price, we didn’t cut any of our social programmes.
Journal: Whilst it seems like the rights of workers in Europe and many other places are being driven back, workers in Venezuela have won new rights – how did that come about?
Jacobo: Between 1989 and 1998 the neoliberals dismantled large parts of our country. These past 14 years since we’ve
Journal: In the recent election, Hugo Chavez was re-elected president with a 10 per cent lead over the opposition –
Carlos: The workers movement proposed a new law to Chavez. He agreed, but made it conditional on us building consent for any
something that I’m sure Obama, with his one per cent margin was envious of. What impact will that have? Jacobo: Chavez’s victory has given us huge hope. We are well on the path to transforming our society and the big majority allows us to further deepen the process of building socialism in Venezuela. Carlos: Yes, Chavez’s victory gives us a good starting point. Those who wanted to take us back to subservience to the US economic model were defeated at the ballot box, so now we’ve six years of hard work to resolve the many problems we still have in society. We have to fight against corruption and bureaucracy like anywhere else, but the difference is, things are getting better for the majority of our society, not just those at the very top.
changes through a nationwide consultation process. Across the trade union movement we had 2,500 discussion meetings, which resulted in 19,000 submissions. In order to draft the law there was a commission including ministers, MPs, lawyers and judges, but also members of the trade unions, like myself. We’ve now won or extended the rights of millions of Venezuelans, from job stability and protection from unfair dismissal to an increase in maternity leave and a guarantee that new mothers will have two years job stability when they return. The right to form unions and to collective bargaining have been extended, with fairer strike laws allowing for secondary action. Workers will now get a reserved seat in the management of state sector companies, workplace education is now a right and at least 15 per cent of profits in the private sector must be distributed to workers. Outsourcing has been banned, with companies given three years to bring services back in-house. Journal: Could you tell us more about the huge expansion going on in the Venezuelan railways and the social motivation behind this? Carlos: Before the election of our socialist government, the railways were disregarded with everything going by road. Now there’s a very ambitious plan to connect the whole country through a
TSSA’s Manuel Cortes with youth activist Laura Lopez and trade unionists Carlos Lopez and Jacobo Torres
national rail network for the first time. We’re also investing in public transport more generally – metro systems, a proper bus network for the first time – all to ensure people rely less on their own cars. As an oil exporter, petrol is cheaper than water, but this leaves our cities permanently congested. The new railways are really going to have a huge impact. In our mountainous urban areas, given the number of people who live in poor districts on the outskirts, we’re working to ensure they have cheap and easy access to the city centre through a network of cable cars. The first of these is already operating with several more this year. Compared to moving through tiny streets of shanty-towns and on to over-crowded roads, these can save people up to two hours on their daily commute. On the metro and the railways, prices are controlled so ordinary workers have easy access. The majority of buses are still in private hands – small operators often just running a couple of vehicles on a single route. We have some control over
the prices, but the service is really poor, unreliable and very polluting. We’re now working to substitute these with public buses which are bigger, more comfortable and reliable. Journal: There’s also been huge changes to healthcare and education over the last few years, how do you see that process going forward?
Fotografía Prensa Miraflores
Fotografía Prensa Miraflores
President Hugo Chavez at the launch of a Cable Liner shuttle on the Caracas Metro.
Since this interview President Chavez has once again needed to seek urgent treatment for cancer. His condition remains precarious with his government, party and movement hopeful, but prepared should his condition worsen. Chavez has discussed the possibility of there needing to be a replacement president and has recommended Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Under Venezuela’s ultra-democratic constitution, brought in under Chavez, an election would be held within 30 days of him no longer being President. With or without Chavez, the progress seen by the Venezuelan people looks set to continue.
Carlos: We’ve made a huge effort in education, right from primary level up to university. We’ve eradicated illiteracy with programmes for adults and pensioners as well as kids. All primary age children now receive a small laptop with educational software which they can take home with them. We now have 2.5 million people enrolled in our universities – all studying without fees – compared to just 400,000 when Chavez came to power – that’s now the second highest in Latin America. Universities have also gone out beyond the normal four walls of their campuses and into the communities, teaching their subjects in a way that is adapted to the context of the communities in which they’re based. Over the last decade we’ve constructed a public health service almost from scratch – infant mortality has dropped by a third, life expectancy is increasing and the country now has a network of over 13,000 small clinics serving a very local area. Jacobo: This is what is possible when our resources are used to advance the lives of all citizens – not hoarded for the benefit of a tiny minority. 7
To find out more about the social transformation of Venezuela or to get involved in supporting the process, visit the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign at www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk.
Christian Wolmar The privately operated but TfL-controlled London Overground leaving the City
Based on CC BY NC 2 RyanTaylor1986
Christian Wolmar takes issue with the claim from FirstGroup’s Tim O’Toole that the complexity and profit-motive in the current system are the main drivers of growth.
Private good, public bad? In his George Bradshaw lecture given at the Institution of Civil Engineers in October, Tim O’Toole, the boss of FirstGroup emphasised that the key reason behind the growth of the railways in the past 15 years was the fact that they were in the private sector. Moreover, he argued that it was the very complexity of the system created by privatisation that has delivered that growth and therefore, the fragmentation created by the sell-off must be retained. In the lecture he stressed: ‘The industry structure that best promotes the aspiration and drive for growth is one that
involves private Train Operating Companies (TOCs). Private TOCs must deliver growth to survive; a monolithic, publicly-owned authority doesn’t have to.’ He said that the public sector had ‘a dated mindset that the railway is ours, that its residual purpose following the end of British Rail is to remain the sustaining-engine of the only thing to which some truly owe allegiance, the pension plan… In other words, growth is just a further burden instead of an ambition and reward.’ Gosh, bet he never said that to his workers and managers in London Underground, which he ran from 2002 to 2009.
He then spoke about how complexity had also been a source of growth: ‘Our industry has become very complex, with multiple TOCs and FOCs where once there was one authority, and its complexity is set to increase with Network Rail's devolution, but the greater complexity has generated and absorbed the greatest sustained growth in passengers in history.’ In other words, it is the mix of privatisation, coupled with the complexity which it caused, that has been the catalyst for the recent success of the railways. I could not disagree
Christian Wolmar Does public sector rail ‘lack the impetus to grow’? London Overground grew by a staggering 110 per cent in its first year. more with both propositions, even though Mr O’Toole is a man for whom I have enormous respect. When Tim O’Toole ran London Underground, he did so with real dedication to public service and he did much to improve the service. It was a period of growth during which, for the first time, the London Underground reached the figure of 1bn users in a year – a number that has continued to rise. During Mr O’Toole’s time at the Underground, I used to meet him regularly and he railed against the Public Private Partnership that had been created by the Labour government. This plan involved separating out the operations, which remained in public hands, from the infrastructure. When he left to go back, temporarily as it turned out, to the USA, I interviewed him for the Evening Standard (on my website, 17 April 2009) and he was strongly critical of the whole arrangement: ‘So many things about the PPP were wrong. Separating the track from the infrastructure was wrong. The theory was that these private companies would come in and introduce all this innovation, but fundamentally we have not had the level of innovation that justifies the extra cost of the PPP’ He added that far from innovating, the private companies had played safe and not introduced risky new technology but rather had milked the system for what they could get. Now though, he suggests that public sector organisations lack the impetus and drive to grow, and only the private sector has the vision and desire to promote expansion. He said ‘there is a fundamental difference in mindsets between entities that are trying to make money and those whose central purpose is to spend it. Over time, the latter simply lack the day to day obsession with finding ways to grow’. Let’s though, examine this proposition. Take, for example London Overground which while being run by a private company, works entirely to the
specification of Transport for London. It is a concession rather than a franchise and thanks to investment, good marketing and re-staffing stations, it grew by a staggering 110 per cent in its first year. Already, extra coaches are having to be provided to meet demand. Then there is Directly Operated Railways which has been quietly running the East Coast franchise for the past three years and was on standby to run West Coast, until at the last minute a deal was reached with Virgin. DOR took over a poorly run franchise and has built up a number of notable successes. Passenger numbers between London and Edinburgh have risen by more than a third and recently the company celebrated the best-ever monthly punctuality figure of 93.3 per cent – a proportion that has consistently been higher than Virgin’s efforts on the West Coast. Highly profitable First Class passengers – presumably less of a priority in Tim O’Toole’s vision of public sector rail – have grown by 39 per cent between London and Edinburgh. Oddly, too, East Coast is top of the league table of complaints, but according to Passenger Focus many of these apparently relate to overzealous checking of tickets – something which is not supposed to happen in the O’Toole world of public sector management. Possibly most interesting is the often forgotten example of Northern Ireland. Because of fears of potential political difficulties, the small railway of Northern Ireland has remained a publicly owned integrated operation which has recently benefitted from investment in both rolling stock and track.
In Northern Ireland, passenger numbers are up 70 per cent – an even higher rate than on the mainland. Passenger numbers there have increased by 70 per cent over the past decade, an even higher rate than on the mainland, thanks in part to the investment programme. There are plans for further expansion which will doubtless bring yet more growth.
East Coast has now been in public hands for over three years
Mr O’Toole, who is also head of the bizarre Rail Delivery Group – the body meant to deliver the cost reductions required by the McNulty report – seems to be on an ideological path up the wrong track. The result of the West Coast omnishambles is that for the next two years Virgin will be running the line on the basis of a small management fee of just 1 per cent, with the company promising that the money will go to good causes
Virgin will now run the West Coast on the basis of a fee of just 1 per cent, with that going to good causes. (not, one hopes, for wildlife management on Branson’s personal Necker Island in the Caribbean). It will, therefore, not be a franchise but effectively a concession like London Overground which actually points the way forward. If the next Labour government proves to be too timid to actually take back the franchises into public ownership which is the obvious solution to this mess, the party could see concessions as the ideal compromise. No longer would we have the tortuous bidding process based on the voodoo science of futurology, but a much more easy process that would be far less costly and complex. 7
Christian Wolmar is seeking the Labour nomination for the London Mayor election in 2016. If you would like him to address your branch meeting, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Salveson Paul Salveson describes his proposals for a new structure for Welsh railways when the current franchise expires, as featured in a new publication by The Co-operative Party.
Could Wales serve as a new ‘model railway’ for services across the UK?
Based on an image by Martyn Spencer / hst43077
Post-privatisation: a new railway model for Wales? The turmoil in the rail industry following the suspension of the West Coast and other franchising competitions has caused many railway professionals to question the assumptions that have underpinned privatisation, and in particular the model that has been imposed on Britain’s railways. Neither short franchises, nor longer contracts, provide a sensible way to develop the UK rail network; both have inherent contradictions that have been exposed over the last couple of years, on both East and West Coast franchises. The big problem for opponents of privatisation has been the question ‘well what would you do instead?’ The simple answer, to bring back ‘old BR’, has its problems. The centralised structure created in 1948 had some merits but reflected a post-war United Kingdom that has disappeared. Devolution of significant powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mean there is no going back to London control, whether for railways or many other areas of policy. In terms of rail, even the current government is seriously contemplating devolving rail powers to the English regions.
This presents some exciting opportunities for trades unionists if we are willing to think beyond the old mindset of central state control and ownership. My report ‘Rail Cymru – a people’s railway for Wales’ was commissioned by the Cooperative Party and explores ways in which a not-for-profit ‘mutually-owned’ railway could work, offering up a number of ideas for further debate. I hope TSSA members will respond to that challenge and play a leading part in the discussion. Some of the proposals in the report owe much to the early ideas of railway trades unionists at the beginning of the twentieth century, including those of the Railway Clerks’ Association, the forerunner of today’s TSSA. What is the report saying? Firstly, that franchising is not an appropriate way to run a railway and the end of the current ‘Wales and Borders’ franchise in 2018 offers the right sort of timescale for the Labour-run Welsh Government to prepare for something much more suited to the needs of the people of Wales and neighbouring parts of England. Ironically, the current franchise is run by a stateowned operator – German-owned Arriva
Trains Wales. In many ways its performance compares well with other ‘regional’ operators, but the reality is that the main objective is to make money for its parent company whilst keeping performance within the standards laid down by the franchise agreement – currently let by the Department for Transport in London. If devolution is to mean anything, full responsibility for domestic rail services (i.e. other than InterCity) should lie with the Welsh Government. The model for ‘Rail Cymru’ owes much to the approach adopted by the devolved Basque Government in Spain which owns and operates its own regional rail network called ‘Euskotren’ (ET). The company also runs an integrated network of feeder bus services. The company operates on an arms-length basis from the government, with day to day responsibilities lying with the company itself. The Basque Government has funded a number of major improvement projects including track doubling, new rolling stock (built locally!) and improved station facilities. In addition, the ET network is vertically integrated, with infrastructure as well as
Paul Sal veson be empowered to discuss issues of strategic importance to the company and from its number it would appoint members (‘non-executive directors’) to the Rail Cymru board. This would have day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business and be chaired by the managing director. Its members would include executive directors and nonexecutive directors nominated by the national stakeholder board. Trades unionists should have strong input as representatives of employees on the national and area boards, together with other stakeholder groups representing passenger and local government interests. This has some similarity to the proposals put forward by Emil Davies in The Case for Railway Nationalisation, published in 1912 and supported by many RCA activists. Davies called for a publicly-owned railway with a range of stakeholders represented on a ‘railway council’, including trades unionists, local authorities and the business community. This structure would seem to offer the best balance between the interests of the Welsh Government which would be the primary funder, and ultimate licensor, of the train company, the interests of employees and those of passengers and the wider community. It would not be a full co-operative but enshrine many if not all of the ethical values which distinguish co-operatives from most ‘for profit’ companies owned by shareholders. The proposals for what is essentially a ‘social enterprise’ train company in which any surplus (profits) are re-invested into the railway are not very difficult to implement. It requires political will, which is there on the part of the Labourcontrolled National Assembly for Wales. However, it also requires a sympathetic response from the Government at Westminster, on a number of levels. Firstly, to give the National Assembly of Wales the same control over the Wales and Borders franchise as those currently exercised by the Scottish Government over ScotRail. In addition however, it should allow the Welsh Government to decide not to go through a franchising process to set up ‘Rail Cymru’ as the operator of passenger services in Wales and the Borders. This cuts across the
Tories’ 1993 Railways Act and may require either derogation or amendment to the Act. It most certainly needs a sympathetic approach by the UK Secretary of State for Transport and that is only likely to happen if we have a Labour Government in power at Westminster as well as in Cardiff Bay. Getting the structure right is crucial, but the success of a ‘mutual’ Rail Cymru will be judged on how it delivers. The report suggests that Rail Cymru should aim to expand its services, improve quality and ensure much better integration with bus services across Wales – including operating its own feeder services to towns which lost their rail services in the 1960s. It should also have a high profile in the community and reflect a strong national identity – a train company that the people of Wales can feel truly proud of. If Wales can be the first to break loose from the shackles of privatisation and the shot-termism of franchising, other parts of the UK could well follow suit, including Scotland and the North of England. What marks Wales off as being the strongest contender to move beyond the privatised shambles is having a Labour administration willing to try alternative approaches combined with a suitable length of time to prepare the ground before the current franchise runs out. There is everything to play for in achieving what our RCA forebears aspired to.
Professor Paul Salveson MBE is a member of TSSA’s Yorkshire Ridings Branch The Co-operative Party’s report Rail Cymru – a people’s railway for Wales is downloadable on the Co-operative Party website http://tinyurl.com/welshrail.
The Welsh Government already subsidise several Arriva Trains Wales services, but London retains overall control
Arriva Trains Wales
operations coming under the same overall control, but with separate accounting units for infrastructure, to keep within EU law. In Wales, a not-for-profit train company could be established by the Welsh Government, ensuring public accountability but also allowing scope for employee and passenger involvement. Some of the remaining municipallyowned bus companies in the UK offer examples of how public accountability can be delivered in ways that are both legal and deliver high quality services. A key issue is to create a company that combines accountability, inclusiveness and commercialism – a word which trades unionists should not be afraid of, if the result is improved services. Creating the right governance will be critical in ensuring Rail Cymru has the leadership needed to create an outstanding service for Wales and the English borders. The proposal in the report is for a three-tier structure that ensures balanced representation across Wales and the Borders and delivers a tight management structure at the top. This would involve the Rail Cymru Board itself, supervised by a National Stakeholder Forum with five ‘area stakeholder boards’ (ASBs). The latter would involve employees, local managers, local authorities, passenger groups, community rail partnerships, Network Rail and other relevant rail industry bodies. The ASBs would have considerable influencing power. Each would have a strong say in service delivery in its area but also look at opportunities for widening Rail Cymru’s profile in the local community. It would ensure that Rail Cymru delivers on its obligations and also help ensure that as much procurement of goods and services is as local as possible. The ‘national’ stakeholder forum would cover the entire Wales and Borders network and include representation for employees. There might also be representation from the Welsh Government itself as main paymaster, Network Rail, local authorities (including neighbouring English shires), passengers (via Passenger Focus), community rail partnerships, the business community and individual experts nominated by the Welsh Government. The national stakeholder forum would
TSSA personal injury service
“It’s awful to see your child in such pain. But I was glad that TSSA could help us make her better.” Emma was five when she broke her leg falling in a local playground. She had been on a rope ladder on the climbing frame when the rope broke and she fell to the ground. Her parents, Claire and Andrew, were watching her while her baby brother slept in his pushchair. “I saw her fall,” says Andrew, a member of TSSA. “It’s one of those things that will haunt me the rest of my days, seeing your child fall and land in incredible pain. I ran to her and when I saw her leg I called 999 immediately. It felt like they were there almost instantly.” Emma needed sedatives as well as strong pain
relief and the ambulance crew took her to the local children’s hospital where she was treated for a broken thigh bone and mild concussion. Another parent who witnessed the fall took a picture of the spot where Emma had fallen and the rope that had broken, causing her to fall. “At work the next day I was telling a colleague about it and he recommended I call TSSA’s solicitors. I didn’t want anyone else’s child to be hurt the same way, so I called. Andrew spoke with the solicitor John, and passed him a copy of the picture the other parent had taken of the play equipment. “Those pictures were really useful because they showed the rope when it was freshly broken. By the
time I spoke with John, the local authority had already fixed the rope. John was able to use the photo and then they could not deny responsibility.” The authority’s insurers offered Claire and Andrew £1000 for her injury, which John advised them to turn down. “Children heal more quickly than adults, but Emma needed some physiotherapy for her injury. The NHS physiotherapist was fully booked and if we wanted to get Emma the help at the time it was going to be most critical for her recovery, we had no choice but to go private.” Using evidence from the physiotherapist and independent medical experts, John negotiated for a higher offer, which
took into account Emma’s need for rehabilitation. Eventually the insurers offered £4000 which was accepted. “Thanks to TSSA and John at Morrish’s I was able to get my daughter the medical treatment she really needed. It’s now one year after the accident and thankfully her bone has healed and the leg is growing normally along with the rest of her! Thanks TSSA.”
l Based on a real life case. Certain details have been altered to protect the identity of the victim. Morrish Solicitors offers free personal injury legal advice for TSSA members and their family members. Whether the injury occurred at work or completely unrelated to work, Morrish Solicitors provides expert legal advice you can trust. Call 0800 093 0353.
Accidents do not happen - they are caused! As a member of the TSSA, should either you or your immediate family suffer injury through someone else’s negligence, you will be entitled to FREE legal advice and representation from our specialist personal injury lawyers Morrish Solicitors LLP. No money will be deducted from any compensation recovered and no charge will be made to you or your family for the advice and representation you receive. If you’d like to find out more, call us today and we will look after you. ACCIDENTS AT WORK
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As the world didn’t end on 21 December, the Helpdesk are glad to be able to wish a happy and prosperous new year to all readers.
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UK While trying to rid the planet of chocolate and malt whisky over the festive season, the Helpdesk received an interesting email from our mole in Vince Cable’s office. We all make New Year resolutions, and our friend sent on a copy of what seems to be Vince’s. We reproduce them here so we know that he’s got it in for us some of what he’s got in store for us all in the coming year:
Remove protection against workers being harassed by third parties. (This might be a problem for those dealing with the public as customers or clients, but then protecting workers is a burden on business) l Remove the 115 year old legal protection that says workers can rely on an employer's breach of health and safety law to win a personal injury claim. Force the worker to provide proof of the employer’s negligence. (Health and safety is a burden on business) l Force workers to be independently assessed by a private health company after four weeks sickness. Their own GPs are too keen to sign people off. Look at the success we’ve already had with removing Disability Living Allowance from people who are unfit to work (and besides, encouraging employees to stay at home when they are too ill to work is a burden on business) l Reduce the maximum compensation for unfair dismissal (compensating people who are unfairly dismissed is a burden on business) l Remove the ‘gold plating’ on TUPE, Redundancy and Working Time Regulations to give only the minimum protection forced on us by the EU directives (the Working Time Directive specifies a minimum of 14 weeks maternity leave, so why do we allow it to last up to 52 weeks – an additional 38 weeks burden on business)
Republic of Ireland
ess – I’ll be well in with busin Make sure I keep election after the next looking for a job
CC BY ND BISgovuk
These are some of the policies in the pipeline as we go to press, along with other misguided attempts to shift the ‘burden’ from businesses to workers, alongside the move to transfer blame for the recession from bankers and tax dodging companies to the unemployed and those on benefits. For most of us New Year Resolutions don’t last past the middle of January, but unless we protest and fight these government plans, they will continue to slash our rights at work. Rant over, normal service resumes next issue, but there was one more in Vince’s list that my mole saved for last: l
Business Secretary Vince Cable in his favourite hat
Take action: You can find out more and take action against the government’s plans at www.StopEmploymentWrongs.org
letters This is your chance to share your views with thousands of other TSSA members. The deadline for the next issue is 11 February. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to TSSA Journal, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EJ.
Public funding is essential Further to the editorial comment to the letter in the last Journal, I cannot agree with any of the letter from Robin Havenhand. He asks what is the point of government subsidised rail travel? Well the point of it is to provide an alternative means of transport to the motor car (which ironically is in itself heavily subsidised as motoring taxes do not go anywhere near the cost of providing the road) and also to provide a social and public service. Presumably the comment that ‘the cost of rail travel should fall on passengers not taxpayers’ should also apply to motorists. You may as well argue that taxpayers who have no kids should not subsidise schools or those who are not ill shouldn‘t have to pay for hospitals. Public transport has massive environmental benefits and aids the whole community as it is much more efficient to move people around in one vehicle. Just imagine what would happen if government did not invest in rail or bus travel: most lines (even in London) would close and our cities would be permanently gridlocked. Even Los Angeles has at last seen sense and has
reintroduced light rail rather than building yet more freeways. Luckily most of the public are on the side of TSSA on this one. Now for the hard work of persuading some politicians. Cities are for people, not cars! Colin Brazier Executive Committee Member, London South West Who will challenge crooks at the top? Thank you for publishing my letter in the November issue of the Journal. I am not sure which part of my letter gave you the impression that I am against TSSA taking up disputes between employers and employees – I would expect the union to support its members. The point I was trying to make is that it is not right for a single dispute between Virgin and one of its employees to be used by the TSSA or anybody else to say that the whole culture of Virgin Trains is to dismiss its staff at the first opportunity for no good reason. I wanted also to comment on the letter from Jon Burden. He makes the point that the union ‘is marching for more of the same’ which aligns with my view that TSSA has not moved on. Our economy has been
totally distorted over the last twenty years so that it is no longer the elected government that runs the country; they just do the bidding of the rich and powerful, most of whom evidently are happy to use criminal fraud and other illegal means to amass huge fortunes regardless of the damage done to society. Unless there is a massive culturechange that reins in these monsters, the ordinary people of the UK have no proper financial future. Who is leading the fight against them? Nobody it seems. Why? Because most of those who could lead the fight are already on the payroll, one way of another, of the crooks who are running the country for their own benefit. Consequently, they will not lead a movement to kill the geese that lay their golden eggs.
Ron Havenhand Superannuated member
Tackling metal theft together Thank you for your letter [informing BTP of policy agreed on metal theft] which is very supportive and welcome. I would like to reassure TSSA members that the British Transport Police and the police service nationally are working together to reduce the threat posed to communities and
industry by metal thieves. We have received significant support from the Government and Department for Transport, which has been instrumental in establishing the National Metal Theft Taskforce Programme (NMTTP). The NMTTP was set up in December 2011 to manage the national response to metal theft through regional co-ordination. This approach has achieved some very impressive results so far, but there is still much work to be done, particularly now cash transactions at scrap metal yards have been prohibited. The efforts of BTP in tackling this type of criminality has produced a reduction in metal theft offences of over 53 per cent so far this year. Everyone can play a role in disrupting offenders who cause inconvenience and upset to the wider community. TSSA members can provide invaluable assistance in the fight against metal theft by being alert and through early reporting of any suspicious activity that they witness or become aware of. This can be done via BTP control room or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
DS John McBride British Transport Police