Ken for Mayor Putting transport centre-stage
l Better Rail campaign
l Government policy digested
l Greece: the human cost of austerity
in this issue
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association General Secretary: Manuel Cortes
Joining TSSA T: 020 7529 8032 F: 020 7383 0656 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Your membership details T: 020 7529 8018 E: email@example.com 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
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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 108/issue 1222
10-13 Better Rail News of TSSA’s major new campaign looking to build the case for the railway we want to see.
Gerasimos Koilakos/Invision Imag
TSSA Journal Editor: Ben Soffa E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 020 7529 8055 M: 07809 583020
4–9 News & campaigns u Ticket offices under threat
u TUC rail campaign launched u Sack Boris this May
u Command Paper slammed
14-16 Report on the solidarity delegation to meet workers in Greece, pushed to the edge and beyond.
u Sack Boris this May
10–13 Better Rail
u Join TSSA’s major new campaign for all our futures
u The downward spiral of extreme austerity
Follow Annual Conference live at www.tssa.org.uk/conferencelive 13-16 May
CC BY-SA-3 Colin
The new Western Concourse of London King’s Cross opened on 19 March 2012.
17 General secretary’s comment 18–19 London elects: Better off with Ken 20–23 Comment
u Christian Wolmar on the government’s new policy
u Paul Salveson on the beginning of the end of privatisation?
24 Help & advice 26 Elections 26 Equalities news 28 Letters, reviews and obituary
The ‘Better Rail’ campaign being launched by TSSA this month looks set to pull together a powerful vision of what an integrated, modern railway could look like, stripped of the profit motive and serving the interests of both staff and passenger alike (p10-13). Sadly, this is a long way removed from the split-up and flogged-off railway on the cheap that the current government seems to want to create (comment on p7 and 20-21). As we look to be stuck with Cameron, Greening and co. for another few years, organising – in our workplaces and in our communities – is vital to ensure we can build towards a brighter future. But sometimes the choices are more immediate: in London, Labour’s candidate for Mayor, Ken Livingstone, represents what can be achieved when you have a mainstream politician ready to listen to those working at the coalface of the rail industry. In his last term he created London Overground, transforming an under-used and decaying service run for profit by Silverlink into the thriving London Overground network, with new rolling stock, visible staff at every station, increased frequency and restored routes. This sounds very much like the vision of a Better Railway that many of us are trying to create. Voting for London Mayor and councils across the UK is on Thursday May 3. In the middle of this month, TSSA’s Annual Delegate Conference will meet in Cardiff. There is a packed agenda covering all areas of the Association’s work, including a crucial discussion on the way forward following the unsuccessful outcome of the talks with RMT over the possibility of a new union (p4). The Journal will be covering all aspects of Conference, with live online updates and a daily newsletter. From Sunday 13 May, you can keep track of the discussions at www.tssa.org.uk/conferencelive Ben Soffa, editor
Leaks expose Government’s disastrous closure plan LEAKED EMAILS FROM the Department for Transport have exposed the secrecy and dishonesty of the Government’s plans to cut staff at hundreds of stations across the UK. TSSA has been warning since the publication of the McNulty report last summer that the Government was preparing to cut ticket office staff completely at over six hundred stations and reduce staff at a further 350. Overall 40 per cent of the network would be affected. As well as TSSA and other trade unions, the proposals have alarmed passenger groups and those representing disabled and older passengers. TSSA’s station survey campaign shows (see page 10), the
travelling public say that they value safe, staffed stations and don’t want to see these services cut. Emails leaked to the BBC prove that not only is the Government pressing ahead with its planned station cuts regardless of its ongoing consultations and the likely public backlash, but it also hopes to avoid the blame by passing the buck to train operators. One email seen by journalists, from one DfT civil servant to another, said: ‘your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from TOCs not us is very neat’. General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘The DfT is getting the TOCs to do its dirty work for it. It is simply by-passing Parliament and allowing the TOCs to close
THE TUC, TSSA, fellow rail unions and transport campaigners have launched a campaign to fight job cuts, service reductions, ticket office closures and fare hikes in the rail industry. At a meeting with MPs at the House of Commons in late March, union leaders and representatives from the Campaign for Better Transport raised their concerns about the government’s proposals for the future of rail as outlined in the Rail Command Paper. TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady, said ‘The TUC
CC BY-NC-ND 2 WorldSkills
TUC and unions launch joint campaign against job cuts
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady
is proud to support railway workers, passengers and communities in defence of affordable, accessible and safer rail. We will be stepping up
our efforts and building on the fantastic partnership we have put in place with unions and transport campaigners in the months ahead.’ 7
these stations through the franchise agreements. This is closure by stealth without any democratic mandate at all.’ TSSA-backed community campaign Together for Transport is working with railway passengers and other organisations to fight the station cut plans. Local coalitions are being formed to stand up for staffed stations and build pressure on MPs to oppose ticket office cuts. 7
i Visit www.togetherfortransport.org
now to get involved. If you would like to be part of a local Staff Our Stations campaign group, we can put you in touch with others in your area who care about the future of staffed stations.
RMT talks come to an end TALKS AIMED AT creating a new transport union in partnership with the RMT have not been able to reach a positive conclusion. After months of discussions it became clear that significant differences remained and that further talks would not be of benefit at this time. TSSA’s Executive Committee regretted this but noted the positive impact that the closer working relationship between TSSA and RMT had brought in recent years. It was very much hoped this would continue whilst TSSA explored other possibilities for federation or the formation of a new union with other partners. The way forward from this point will be the focus of a wide ranging strategic debate at TSSA’s Annual Conference later this month. Delegates will be asked to explore options for our union’s future, its finances and subscriptions, structures and campaigning and organising activities.7
TSSA Conference 2012: Follow it online THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE will run from Sunday 13 to Wednesday 16 May in Cardiff. Follow all the news updated live through the event that will shape our future at www.tssa.org.uk/ conferencelive7
news Tell the London Mayor to block sweatshop uniforms Jim Cranshaw of student campaigning network People & Planet discusses how TSSA members can help the campaign to prevent sweatshop-made uniforms. From Bangladesh to China to Morocco, workers who manufacture clothing toil in unbearable conditions. Mostly young women, they subsist on poverty wages and work up to 17 hour days, often in cramped and dangerous conditions. Many uniforms being worn by London's public sector workers are likely to have been made in similar conditions. Uniforms worn by tube drivers, cleaners and clerical staff may well have come from such sweatshop labour. The only people who can tell us about the real conditions in garment factories are the workers in the factories themselves. Only they have an incentive to tell the truth. Our campaign aims for all the factories that make uniforms for TfL to be regulated, monitored and reformed, to stop sweatshop abuses happening. The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is a worker-led monitoring body that can do this. It would require TfL’s suppliers to disclose the locations of their factories, and allow labour rights monitors to visit and speak to workers. As a result of solidarity campaigns in response to WRC reports, Fruit of the Loom were forced to re-hire 1800 workers they sacked for unionising with Nike pressured into paying $1million compensation to redundant workers. This is a campaign we can win. In December, the London Assembly voted to investigate affiliating to the Worker Rights Consortium, but we need your support to make sure this happens. Sign the petition, write to your Assembly Members and download a model motion at peopleandplanet.org /GLA.7
Campaign calls for ‘FarePayers’ franchise’ for Great Western TSSA AND TOGETHER for Transport are working together to build a powerful coalition of trade unions, rail passengers, businesses and environmental groups in the South West aimed at agreeing a core set of standards for the next franchisee and then lobbying those in the bidding to adopt them. The new Great Western franchise due to be awarded later this year. Current train operator First is bidding against a number of other companies to win the new lucrative 15 year contract. With the Government looking to slash costs, we need popular support to demand the franchise doesn’t implement cuts to railway services and staff. Already a number of partner organisations have come on board in preparation for a formal campaign launch in May. The coalition’s core demands are as follows:
Great Western: The Fare Payers’ Franchise increases in fares An affordable railway No station car park rip-off. above inflation. Stop the station taxi ranks. Don’t charge taxis to use
Local branches and suburban services Protect current levels of local branch and suburban network provision and deliver investment to expand services. Personal safety Lower crime rates on stations and trains – improve passen ger perception of person al security.
A well-staffed railway No cuts to railway staff. Preserve staffed ticket offices. A guard on every train; maintenance staff that ensure a safe and environmentally pleasant network. erience A pleasant travelling exp a ns, a reliable service and tio Clean and pleasant sta d to overcrowding. safe railway – and an en t volunteer projects tha Community grants for to s ion uct red No . ments improve station environ safety spending.
An accessible railway Accessible stations and trains for older and disabled passengers and parents with small children and push-chairs. No reduction to the number of station stops. A disabled station assistant for everyone who requires one. An integrated transport region Commit to worki ng with local councils and other providers of local public transport to mo ve towards a joined up transport network. Sup port for and co-operatio n with integrated transp ort authorities where relevant.
An environmentally friendly railway Commit to an eco-audit of the fleet and maintain and redevelop trains in a way that reduces CO2 emissions. Reduce carbon footprint of the entire franchise operation.
Take action Do you live in the area covered by the Great Western franchise? Would you like to be involved in the campaign for a FarePayers’ Franchise? Email george@together fortransport.org to get involved.7
organising Billboards with this design and phone kiosk advertising wraps have got the message out across London, along with 155,000 Oyster card holders now in circulation.
TSSA members in London step up a gear to Sack Boris THE CAMPAIGN TO Sack Boris is now in full swing and only a few days remain until Londoners go to the polls to cast their vote. We reported in the last journal how the TSSA has teamed up with the grassroots, independent Sack Boris campaign to inform voters about the disastrous effect that four years of Boris Johnson has had on transport in the capital. Fares have risen above inflation for four years. A single bus ticket is up 50 per cent from 90p in 2008 to £1.35 today. A weekly zone 1–2 travelcard will cost you £260 a year more than it would have done when Boris Johnson was first elected. And an annual zone 1–4 travelcard went up by £96 in the last year alone! Johnson has committed himself to further big fare hikes if he is re-elected on 3 May. If the Government’s own forecasts are to be believed, that translates into fare rises
The ‘New Bus for London’ – each costing several times that of a modern hybrid vehicle – had to compete for attention at its press launch with a TSSA / Sack Boris bus. The new bus promptly broke down whilst our 45 year-old model carried on fine.
Andrew Wiard / reportdigital.co.uk
of 23 per cent by 2016, and at a time when the cost of living is straining household budgets to breaking point, it’s the opposite of what the mayor should be planning to do. At the same time as fares have soared, Boris Johnson has wasted millions of pounds on a new bus for London which has been beset by technical faults and rushed out before it’s ready. On top of all that, the last four years have seen industrial relations between City Hall and the TSSA and our sister transport unions deteriorate
to the benefit of no one. Boris Johnson has failed to meet the trade unions even once to discuss the vital work that Transport for London employees perform to keep the city moving. Instead, he’s presided over damaging cuts to staff numbers. Our members in London have stepped up to ensure voters are equipped with these facts when they go to the ballot box. Joining forces with other Sack Boris activists, we have distributed 155,000 Oyster card holders to
commuters and helped raise funds for a hard-hitting series of billboards and phone booth adverts which were rolled out across London during April. On Thursday 3 May, if you live in London make your vote count – and Sack Boris! 7
Elections will also take place for many local councils across England and all councils in Scotland and Wales (except Anglesey).
Government Command Paper – Heads they win tails you lose! ON 8 MARCH the Government eventually published its Command Paper ‘Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First’. This was its formal response to Sir Roy McNulty’s deeply flawed Rail Value for Money study published last May that aims to cut industry costs by up to £3.5 billion. Every January passengers are angered by inflation busting fare rises. You’d think our elected representatives at Westminster would reflect this anger and hold the Government to account and do something about it. Well you’d be wrong because they ain’t even going to be given the opportunity. The way the Government responded by means of a ‘Command Paper’ is fundamentally undemocratic. It sets out what the Government wants the industry to do but does not allow for any of the democratic processes or Parliamentary scrutiny normally used when making such major changes. The Command Paper talks a lot about Network Rail and train operators working more closely together – including the creation of alliances, such as that already proceeding on the Wessex route and vertical integration on parts of the network where the train company takes responsibility for the track too. The Government is placing a great deal of trust in the industry in expecting the parties to co-operate. Too much trust in TSSA’s view –
Dracula and running a bloodbank springs to mind! Basically the train operating companies have been given almost everything they want – longer franchises, less responsibility, fewer restrictions, slacker contracts, opportunities to selectively assume responsibility for infrastructure etc. They may as well have cleared a space at the Department for Transport for ATOC to move in. Passengers are going to continue to have to pay inflation busting fare increases for at least another
seven years, with the added nightmare of other government sanctioned scams such as the introduction of ‘super peak’ fares. Government policy will also have an impact on customer service as there will be more ticket office closures, more driver-only operated trains/fewer trains with guards and fewer platform staff. Given all these ‘efficiencies’ are attacks on rail workers’ jobs, pay and conditions as well as being cuts that will impact on passengers, there are clearly areas of mutual
interest that can be worked on as the Government and employers plan to implement their plans. There are obvious worries about what this means in terms of job security, pay and other terms and conditions. It’s not possible to say precisely how many jobs might go and over what timescale, but sadly we’re talking about many, many thousands. What actually happens to services for the public and to staff in the workplace depends on what workers and passengers are prepared to put up with. Using a Command Paper to implement this policy, the Government has limited the opportunity for opposing the measures through Parliamentary channels. Potentially, the changes emanating from McNulty’s review and the Command Paper are the biggest attack on rail workers jobs, pay and conditions of employment in generations. It is important, therefore, that members are prepared to stand up for themselves and the communities affected by these reforms by building links with community groups and strengthening union organisation in the workplace. TSSA will be with you every step of the way. 7 Neil Davies TSSA Policy Adviser
For more details see both the TSSA and joint union briefings at www.tssa.org.uk/ mcnultybriefing
THE SCOTTISH LABOUR conference held in Dundee in early March was my first as a delegate, but I needn’t have worried, being accompanied by our new General Secretary Manuel Cortes and knowledgeable Scottish Senior Organiser Tom Kennedy, it made for a really enjoyable experience. As soon as you entered the hall you could feel a real buzz about the place. This only increased in the run-up to the arrival of Ed Miliband, who totally commanded the stage and audience, speaking without notes for 30 minutes.
I’ve never heard anyone speak so passionately or eloquently without any prompts before it was a joy to watch. Ed pulled no punches with his disgust for the Tory and Lib Dem millionaires in Westminster and their relentless attack on lower and middle-income society. Saturday saw an inspirational rousing speech from our new Scottish leader Johann Lamont and from our new equalities champion, deputy leader Anas Sarwar, both of whom I was able to speak with later in the day. Johann told us how 400 women were losing their jobs
CC BY-NC-ND-2 Scottish Labour
Scottish Labour Conference: the fight-back has begun
Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont
each and every day in Scotland, with over 100,000 under 25 year olds stuck on the dole for more than a year with no real job prospects. Depressing yet inspirational stuff – I certainly
came away more energised and ready to defend our members’ rights. 7 Margaret Anslow, Executive Committee member for Scotland
Network Rail Managed Stations views wanted
Chelmsford Trades Union Council
REPS AT STATIONS managed directly by Network Rail are holding a series of meetings to discuss long-standing issues with the company at a senior level. Issues include Sunday working arrangements which aren’t included in contracts, lack of clarity over many job descriptions and disparities between the dayto-day management structures of different stations.
May Day Rally
Reps have been holding discussions with members of Network Rail’s National Operations Council since the end of last year with a view to settling grievances. One discrepancy in the calculation of annual leave increases where Sunday work is undertaken is thought to be costing many members holiday entitlement. Rame Alia, Network Rail local Rep at Euston, says ‘Network Rail have accepted there is a problem. Now we want to hear from them how this is going to be resolved. We really want these talks to succeed, but we need the strongest possible membership at all Managed Stations to show management these concerns need to be taken seriously.’ 7
i To find out more or to report back conditions at your stations contact Rame Alia on Rame.Alia@networkrail.co.uk.
Tuesday 1 May 7.15pm for 7.45pm Guest speakers: l Manuel Cortes, General Secretary TSSA l Hope Daley, UNISON National Health & Safety Officer Entertainment: l Strawberry Thieves Socialist Choir Friends Meeting House, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford CM1 2QL
Basingstoke Learning Centre relaunch MEMBERS ARE INVITED to drop-in to the relaunch of the Learning Centre on Platform 1 of Basingstoke station throughout the day of Friday
18 May. Lead Union Learning Rep Mel Jansen along with other ULRs will be there to discuss what courses you might be interested in.
TSSA has been working with South West Trains to improve the lifelong learning opportunities for members, with courses ranging from
core English and Maths skills to photography and signlanguage. Now is the time to drop in and find out how ULRs can help with your needs.7
Skills for reps
Training works – and not just for boxers Colin Savage, Company Council Rep at Amey Consulting had been successfully battling away for members, but signing-up to courses from TSSA’s Education Programme massively upped his game. I WAS TOLD being a Rep is a thankless task. But that’s actually not at all true. I don’t get a round of applause everywhere I go, but I have earned the respect of my colleagues and managers for the work I have done on their behalf. The other common phrase is ‘you will not make a difference’ – I have, and working with other likeminded Reps we have made a huge impact. Where my workmates have to wait and see what happens, I am involved in shaping the things that affect us all. We ran a successful collective bargaining campaign to widen our agreement to include many more workers and doubled our membership whilst doing so! We didn’t just do well, we punched way above our
weight and defied the odds. In the run-up to this campaign I reluctantly attended a course on mapping and research. Weird as it may be, I actually enjoyed it. Doing the research to find out about members and potential members may be a bit like stalking, but our mapping played a big part in our success. The part of my Reps duties which I really hated was representing members at disciplinary hearings. I once had a very bad result, which put a cloud over something I had previously enjoyed as a way of making life better for friends and workmates. Before this I had always found a reason to not attend any of the many training courses offered by TSSA. I could always read up all I needed to know or somehow would muddle
through. Well, the bad experience caused me to rethink how effective I really was. I took a chance and signed up for my first course, ‘IRR introduction’. After one day my main thought was ‘why the hell haven’t I done this earlier’. So with my boiler stoked I signed up for the next course – ‘Dealing with members issues’ – my arch enemy. Having an instructor with years of hands-on experienced, coupled with the input of the other Reps, gave me new perspectives, better knowledge and rebuilt confidence. In the films, Rocky trained on raw meat – unknown to me, my training was about to get put to the test: within days I was handed two disciplinaries, due to be heard on the same day, both of
which had the potential to end in summary dismissals. Pen and papers in hand, I prayed to the gods of the union reps, John Major and Edwina Curry. Yes I know… I was worried, so made a poor choice of deities. Thankfully it was the only poor choice as the training kicked in – I would have made Perry Mason proud! The guys I represented received a verbal warning. Since then my newfound knowledge has allowed me to apply pressure to resolve a long running grievance that the bosses appeared to be in no hurry to sort. Done and dusted! You think that ring scares me now? Hit the bell and see who jumps in the ring first! You want to eat thunder and spit lightening bolts too? Then be a Rep, get trained and above all, have fun! 7
Education and organising programme TSSA’S EDUCATION PROGRAMME give opportunities for reps, members and branch officers to further develop the skills as informed and confident advocates for their fellow members. These courses will take place in the coming months. For more information about any of these, or to find our more about TSSA’s education programme in general, contact Adele Potten-Price on 020 7529 8323 / email@example.com.
TITLE How to manage the message Learning Rep induction (part 1) Pensions Leadership and management skills Thinking about becoming more active in the union? Learning Rep induction (part 2) TUPE Organising against the cuts Social media Equality legislation Engaging the community and public LGBT issues Staff inductions and collective bargaining Negotiation skills for women Workplace educators
DATE 1-3 May 8-10 May 8-9 May 28-29 May 31-May 6-7 June 11-12 June 13-14 June 13-14 June 25-27 June 2-4 July 6-8 July 11-12 July 23-25 July 20-22 August
LOCATION London Derby London London London Derby London London London London London London London London London
LEVEL 3 1 4 4 Specialist 1 4 Specialist Specialist 3 4 Specialist 4 2 4
Better Rail Andi Fox and Steve Neagle of Yorkshire No. 1 TOC Branch gathering postcard surveys in York
Better Rail: fighting for a railway that works This May TSSA launches a new campaign, Better Rail. At a time when our railways are seeing the highest passenger levels since the 1920s and yet also have the highest fares in Europe, we need to build towards a future which ensures that rail is a quality service, available to all the public. The government seeks to cut jobs and services and give more power to profitdriven private operators. TSSA members say this will make things worse. We don’t want to simply save our railway, we want to make it better! Recently TSSA members in Train Operating Companies have been asking people in their communities what they want from their train station. The response from the public proves yet again that people care strongly about the transport system – it is an integral part of their lives. People want a quality transport service, accessible to all. With a quality public service as the goal, clear
issues come forward that are important to both TSSA members and the travelling public: safety, fares, accessible and practical station facilities, environmental impact and new technology. Local communities are crying out for more say in shaping their public transport systems. Our members’ voices are amongst them, yet the Government and industry leaders plough ahead with their damaging proposals. That’s why TSSA is launching Better Rail – to ensure we have a comprehensive vision for the future of the rail industry – and one that cannot be ignored. Better Rail will focus on issues that unite our members, passengers and their communities. Over the next six months we aim for many TSSA members and their communities to explore the principles and standards they want to see enshrined in our railway. This work has already started through the TSSA
community organising campaign, Together for Transport, building a case for change that decision-makers need to pay attention to. Within TSSA membership, we have groups of members who are fighting the same battles right across the system: against job cuts, reorganisations, loss of job security and a drop in job satisfaction as they are unable to deliver the railway they know the public want and need. Better Rail will unite our many groups of members in their common struggles and fight to set standards for a better railway. We do not share the vision of the ConDem Government who want a quick fix that simply protects the profit of shareholders. We want a sustainable model for our railway that drives investment in a better railway for all. Have your say on what BETTER RAIL means to you! Go to www.tssa.org.uk/ better-rail.
Better Rail Campaigning for Better Rail What will make our railway better? Our postcard survey asked the public what they want in a station, with the hundreds upon hundreds of responses giving us a huge amount of information about how the public feel about cuts to station staff and services. We want to highlight their voices in our Better Rail campaign, alongside the stories and experiences of our members. Here are some of the issues TSSA members and their communities are campaigning for in their fight for a better railway: Better Rail means a quality public service Transport is a public service that is essential, especially in times where local jobs are hard to come by and local communities face severe cuts to public services. According to the Department for Transport, there were 1.4 billion rail journeys in the UK last year, with the total number of miles travelled having increased by 40 per cent in just the last decade. That is the highest level of use the Britain’s railways have seen since the 1920s. As we are encouraged to shift from other forms of transport to rail as a low-carbon, sustainable mode of transport, the UK government must ensure that the service provided is of a quality that meets the needs of the travelling public. As TSSA launches our Better Rail campaign, we are looking at what needs to happen to make rail a quality public service. ‘Reliability, affordable and satisfactory service really are necessary on a public transport system. It is essential that sufficient staff are available to maintain this. Cutting staff and increasing fares has a negative effect on the quality and efficiency of the service. It also penalises the general public who use these facilities as unfortunately there is no alternative for many of us. We have to pay up or get off.’ Morgan, passenger at Eastbrook Station, near Cardiff
A requirement for rail to become a quality public service is for the railway to be publicly owned and accountable. TSSA
‘Transport must not be a barrier to anyone wanting to be an active member of society, whether they need disabled access or can barely afford it.’ Simon, passenger at Forest Hill station, London
and other rail unions believe the vast sums of public money used to subsidise the profits of the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and other parts of the railways could be used much more efficiently to cover the costs of a publicly-run railway, reducing the cost to the public in terms of fares increases and service cuts. Currently TOCs are making profit for shareholders that – were the system publicly owned and accountable – could be reinvested to make a better railway. Passengers are not oblivious to this injustice: ‘The train companies are oversubsidised, but the money just seems to go to private shareholders and super–rich owners. This expensive mess can only be sorted out by renationalising the railways and putting passengers before profits.’ Katy, passenger in Hackney
‘Return to a national rail system and renationalise private rail companies. Invest in quality of track, electrification and rolling stock.’ Gary, travels between Cardiff Central and London Paddington
Better stations are a key part of a quality public service Our survey feedback shows that the public recognise that staff are an integral part of how a station works. Station staff are under threat following the McNulty report, endorsed both directly in the Government’s own Command Paper and also in their directions to Train Operating Companies (TOCs) bidding for the latest round of franchise renewals. Although ticket vending machines are a valued service, people do not want machines to replace staff and lose their face to face service.
‘Station staff are invaluable assets and must be maintained at no less than their present level. They can provide advice, be there for everyone and help make sure you get the correct tickets.’ Jean, mostly uses Alnmouth and Newcastle stations
Our survey is far from the first to show how valued the services offered by staff are. Passenger Focus, the organisation that produces the National Passenger Survey have clear evidence that people do not want to lose staff at stations. Despite this, ticket office and other station staff face thousands of job cuts if proposals by the government and industry leaders are implemented. Our fight against proposed cuts to ticket offices and station staff is a key part of building a better railway. ‘Human contact is always more beneficial when trying to get information or to provide help when needed – something machines and CCTV are not able to do.’ Debbie, mostly uses Brondesbury London Overground station
An integrated transport system provides a quality public service To make our railways better, we need more integration both within the rail system and with other modes of public transport. Yet the Government proposes further fragmentation and contracting out of responsibility, for example in their support for the transfer of station management to TOCs and increasing their powers to determine service provision, staffing levels and the like. Other plans from the Government do include elements of devolution to local councils and Integrated Transport Authorities (ITAs), giving them more say over local services and where investment is directed – but at the same time as slashing their budgets and pressuring them to cut expenditure! Although funding remains a key issue, TSSA supports the integration of different transport networks and the establishment of ITAs where appropriate.
Better rail TSSA members and staff supporting local campaigners for a better rail service in the south west, controlled by an Integrated Transport Authority. (Front) Gavin Smith, Pip Sheard, Alan Valentine, Julie Boston, Charlotte Leslie, (Back) Peter Gould, Ian Crawford, Mike Wheeler, Alex Wortley and Rob Jenks.
Experience has shown that the added democratic local control these structures offer best serves the needs of the community and provides greater job security for members. ‘Having a city like Bristol without integrated transport has led to overpriced tickets and massive cuts to services. Local routes that give mobility to the elderly and disabled are removed as they often make no money.’ Ian Crawford, Transport For Greater Bristol secretary and TSSA member
In Bristol, TSSA are part of shaping the community campaign for an Integrated Transport Authority through our membership of the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance (TFGB). Our community work with TFGB has helped build a common understanding between our members and TFGB supporters about how to build a better railway and a quality public service for Greater Bristol. Despite the fact that there are many unused tracks in the Greater Bristol area, the services to the public remain limited as many of these routes would be unprofitable if viewed through the narrow prism of ticket revenue alone. With an Integrated Transport Authority, the four local authorities in Greater Bristol would
‘An ITA leads to better service, it’s cheaper, cleaner, more efficient and works for the public. It can help to protect jobs and services in the transport industry and even look to create new employment in the future.’ David Redgwell, Transport For Greater Bristol member and TSSA member
TSSA members at York Station
join together to ensure that routes which cross boundaries receive the proper subsidies and funding required to provide a quality public transport service for all. At the moment, we believe that without an ITA, reopening of routes is unlikely to prove tenable, and that some current services may be put at risk. Better Rail requires a highly skilled workforce Many of the proposed job cuts at stations are based on a theory that a ticket vending machine can easily replace the work of ticket office staff, or that a driver can manage the train and its despatch from the platform by themselves. The government feels it can get away with cutting costs by reducing passenger-facing staffing levels, but a better railway requires highly skilled professional staff that can meet the service standards demanded of them by the travelling public. Yet little is said about the skills behind the work our members do and what they personally bring to the service they provide. Over the next few months our Better Rail campaign will highlight the skills and experience of our members.
‘Your ticket office staff are brilliant. Their encyclopaedic knowledge of routes and fares is a fantastic help, absolutely essential to efficient travel by rail.’ Chris, passenger at York Station
‘Personal safety is really important. As a woman I like to see staff around to manage any situations and make sure I’m safe.’ Jane, passenger at Bristol Temple Meads and Parkway stations
Better Rail is one that is shaped by our communities TSSA is working within our communities to build a Better Railway. We know that there is strong public support for a well funded, well run and good value railway. From eye-watering fare rises year on year, to station staff cuts that jeopardise safety and access, passengers have a direct interest in a better vision for our rail network. Working with Together for Transport, the Better Rail campaign will seek to mobilise this public support into meaningful action.
Get active: stations action! In the last Journal we launched our Stations Postcard Survey, a joint campaign with RMT. Scores of members have taken on the challenge of surveying their passengers and wider community in order to gain support for our campaign to keep staff at stations. So far over 2000 surveys have been returned – but we need more! Pledge your help to gather surveys here: www.tssa.org.uk/pledge TSSA workplace representative Malcolm Phillips is part of a team of reps and active members who are out talking to the public about what they want in a station. Malcolm has been going door to door with our Postcard Surveys and talking to people about the how job cuts at stations will affect them. Generally people will have no idea about the plans in the McNulty Report, Initial Industry Plan or the recent government Command Paper. However when they are presented with the issues, there is overwhelming support the TSSA campaign for staff at stations, making a better railway. TSSA branches have pledged their help to gather surveys. Yorkshire No. 1 TOC Branch opened their campaign with an action at York Station. Their branch covers TSSA members in all TOCs in their region. A team of branch members talked
Better rail Malcolm Phillips
‘I’ve had an excellent response from the members of the public I have spoken to when knocking on doors giving out the cards. They appreciate the personal touch of chatting with them on their doorstep and taking the time to explain to them who McNulty is, the plans he’s come up with and how this is likely to affect their railway service.’ Malcolm Phillips, TOC National Council Representative
with passengers at York station during April, gathering their opinions on our postcard surveys.7
If your branch wants to get involved in the stations postcard survey, pledge your support online www.tssa.org.uk/pledge or contact Nadine firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘We discussed the stations postcard survey campaign at our branch meeting. The issues in the survey are very close to our members’ hearts. We need to show our TOCs that we feel strongly about any potential cuts to station staff and tell the public what we can do that a machine can’t. For our branch we didn’t need to think about whether or why we should do the survey action, we just thought, yeah, we need to do it.’ Andi Fox, Executive Committee Member and Yorkshire No.1 TOC Branch
Get active: what will make a better railway?
AS WE LAUNCH our Better Rail campaign we are talking to TSSA members, potential members, passengers, community groups, and politicians about what they think will make a better railway. But we need your help: l You could hold a launch action at your local station to ask the public what they think will make a better railway. If you are interested in finding out how best to do this, contact email@example.com. l Ask your workmates what they think will make a better railway. Record their answers at www.tssa.org.uk/better-rail or l Ask your friends to Tweet using the hashtag #betterrail l Post your ideas on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tssaunion For more ideas on what you can do to get active in our fight for a better railway, go to www.tssa.org.uk/better-rail or contact Nadine on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top tips for running the postcard campaign TSSA star activist Malcolm Phillips has personally collected over 1200 completed postcard surveys! Here are some of his top tips on successfully collecting completed postcard surveys. You can catch more tips online at www.tssa.org.uk/better-rail. l Pick a method for your action Door to Door has been the most successful method for successfully collecting completed postcards. Pick a street or housing estate near the station and knock on doors! Collecting at stations is good for visibility but you will get less returned. Target those sitting down, not in a hurry. Remember you are doing this as a TSSA member not an employee – don’t wear uniform or allow room for any confusion. Collecting at meetings – take some to union meetings, your church or faith group, schools, sporting events etc. l Explain from the start you are not selling anything! Explain the aim of the campaign and talk about how the local station might suffer if the Government’s proposals are implemented. l Appeal to their situation: Ask if they would feel safe travelling on trains late evening without staff? If they are disabled, elderly or they have children in pushchairs, who is going to help them on and off the train? Pitfalls to avoid: l Don’t knock on doors when you think people are most likely to have just come home and are preparing for their evening meal. l Don’t leave your house without information! Make sure you have a copy of a briefing on the McNulty report or the Government Command paper – or indeed one of those reports themselves – to hand when canvassing. l Don’t go out without plentiful supplies of pens. l Don’t approach people in dimly lit areas, always go to well-lit locations.
TSSA recently joined a delegation to meet and offer solidarity to Greek trade unions, politicians and campaigners and to see first-hand the dire impact that austerity without end is having on ordinary people. Ben Soffa reports.
Whenever the latest round of negotiations throws ‘Greece’ into the headlines, it’s all to easy to think of the problem as one being faced by one of a dozen or so men and women in suits, sat around a Brussels table. Yet just a few hours spent in Athens is enough to show that whilst it might be the finance ministers and bankers we see on the news, this is a crisis hammering down the living standards of every Greek person in a very real way. The delegation of British trade unionists, campaigners and journalists came about in response to a call for solidarity from two heroes of Greece’s modern history: Manolis Glezos and Mikis Theodorakis. Both now in their late 80s,
© Jess Hurd / reportdigital.co.uk
A crisis hurting millions to protect Europe’s millionaires
they are amongst the most respected political and cultural figures in Greece, not least due to their inspiring actions during Greece’s darkest periods of the last century. Shortly after the Nazis occupied Athens Manolis Glezos climbed the walls of the Acropolis under cover of darkness to tear down the swastika which had replaced the Greek flag on the summit. In what is recognised as the first direct act of resistance against the Nazi occupation, Glezos – sentence to death multiple times over – helped bring about a movement that harried the occupiers until they were forced out. Mikis Theodorakis, who was also involved in the Greek resistance, is best
known internationally as the composer of the film score for Zorba the Greek. He also played a key role in opposing the Greek military junta of the 60s and 70s which banned his work and imprisoned him. Significantly, the involvement of Theodorakis shows the breadth of opposition to austerity, having served as a minister in the equivalent of the Conservative Party during the 1990s. The Human Cost Austerity in Greece does not just mean a slight cut-back in some public services – it means a total transformation of the quality of life of millions. The cuts are pushing people to the edge – and then over it. Real absolute poverty is returning
Gerasimos Koilakos/Invision Imag
to the European Union, with tens of thousands dependent on soup kitchens. 1 in 5 can no longer afford to eat meat more than once or twice a week, with cases of child malnutrition growing at an alarming rate. Many public sector workers – from teachers to police officers – have seen their wages cut by 40 per cent, with further cut-backs expected over the summer. The minimum wage is down, slashed by a brutal 32 per cent for those under 25 – a majority of whom – 51 per cent are now unemployed. Pensions have been attacked even more severely with 53 per cent of the value of pension funds taken without warning or consultation – of which one union member said ‘literally the Government are robbing us of our money. This will drive us to complete social exclusion and poverty very soon’. Vaccination programmed for children are being cut back and there are now an estimated 45,000 homeless people in Athens. Tragically, yet unsurprisingly, a growing number of people simply can no longer continue. The Greek suicide rate has increased by 40 per cent in the last year.
The practical response – the ‘Potato Movement’ With millions facing such huge and immediate hardship, those fighting back against austerity have moved beyond political and industrial opposition, to building practical alternatives to help ease people’s lives. The so-called ‘potato movement’ – in which local councils and volunteers bring producers of staple foods – potatoes, flour, olive oil and rice – into their area to sell directly to consumers is one such example. Cutting out multiple levels of profit-taking in the supply chain has meant the difference between being able to put dinners on the table and not, for a growing number of Greeks. Workers put at risk Amongst those met by the delegation were the leaders of the emergency services unions. One representative of the Fire Brigades Union described how severe cuts to funding meant his members’ lives were on the line: ‘We are facing the greatest danger of losing our own lives from the reduction of the assets, the budget, personal and mechanical equipment, all of which affected by cuts
in the budget.’ He told the delegation how no appliances had been replaced for five years whilst others described staff paying for fuel and repairs to their fleet vehicles out of their own pockets. Fire crews were buying their own protective equipment as their brigade-issued gear wore out. A pre-requisite for slashing workers pay and conditions was to attack their unions. As a member of the police union put it bluntly, ‘we are at the point where we are facing the destruction of unions in Greece’. As with many of the changes demanded by ‘the Troika’ – the grouping of the EU, European Central Bank and the IMF – Greek MPs had been handed hundreds of pages of legislation which included the repeal of labour protection laws late at night and made to vote it through the following morning. Rights that had been built up over decades were swept away without debate or discussion. 18 general strikes and a total collapse in support for the two main parties have had little impact on a parliament wedded to whatever policy is dictated by the Troika. The dozens of MPs, of both the left and right who have rebelled against their party leaderships to vote against the
People buy potatoes directly from farmers in Nea Kifisia, Athens, bypassing the supermarkets that many can no longer afford.
The myth of ‘lazy Greece’
TSSA’s Manuel Cortes meeting with composer and former minister Mikis Theodorakis
austerity measures have been summarily expelled, leading to a mix of anti-cuts parties, both old and new, which now commands over 40 per cent in the polls.
A common theme was that the crisis should not be seen as being isolated to Greece, but should serve as a warning to citizens across Europe.
A downward spiral with no escape? Greece’s economy is estimated to have shrunk by about a fifth since 2008. The costs of austerity – in terms of lost tax revenue and increased demand on benefits have pushed the deficit to a much higher level than when the cuts were first planned. Instead of reducing the debt, is has shot up from 130 per cent of GDP two years ago to over 160 per cent today. Austerity policies cut off the possibility of recovery, with what is described as ‘the bail out of Greece’ consisting mostly of a bail-out of international bankers. Of the €130 billion in the latest deal, the banks will get at least a half, through a mix of compensation, interest payments and cash injections. The rest is to be kept in a fund monitored by the Troika, only to be used for future debt repayments. Alexis Tsipras MP, leader of Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left told us ‘Greece is being subjected to neo-liberal shock tactics as an experiment, to see how much pressure a society can take. We are the guinea-pig for extreme austerity, to test it before the model is exported to other countries. One of the driving objectives of the neo-liberal policy is the creation of a cheap labour force; another is the privatisation of national assets for the enrichment of the few.’
The way forward The groups we met advocated a range of alternatives, from the reintroduction of a national currency to a debt reset – an orderly default on the majority of past borrowing. The main issue for many was the question of in whose interests any deal was being struck – the people of Greece or the international creditors. As MP and former world-record javelin thrower Sofia Sakorafa pointed out, where the governments of Argentina and Iceland had taken a defiant approach to debt crises, a settlement was constructed that allowed a way out of their problems to the overwhelming benefit of their societies. Whilst it was in the interests of the IMF to push the same model of privatisation and deregulation wherever and whenever there was a crisis, the successes of other countries showed the ‘disaster narrative’ of the Greek government and its policy prescriptions were a choice and not a necessity. 7
The delegation was organised by the Coalition of Resistance and the People’s Charter. For links and video from the delegation see the online version of this article at www.tssa.org.uk/journal. A series of report-back meetings and further initiatives are planned, check www.greecesolidarity.org for details as they are announced.
One myth that has been widely peddled is that the Greek people brought this crisis on themselves by a combination of laziness and dependence on an overspending state. Yet official EU figures show this to be a total untruth. Research by the Chief Economist of French bank Natixis has shown that Greeks work some of the longest hours in Europe – in fact, on average, they work almost twice as long as the average German worker (2,119 hours compared to 1,390 hours). On average, Greeks also retire later than Germans. From 2000 until the start of the crisis, Greek government spending was lower as a proportion of the economy than in France or Germany – indeed it was below the EU average. Yet Greece faces a serious problem with underpaid tax. The country has the highest proportion of self-employed workers of any advanced economy, bringing with it the common problem of tax avoidance – with this being most severe amongst the rich. A study by the London School of Economics found that the richest 1 per cent under-report their incomes by 24 per cent, compared to 6 per cent for average earners. Whilst the real-world Greek economy stayed fairly healthy during the early years of the global economic crisis, the relative weakness of Greece’s finances caused international bond markets (which lend to governments) to massively increase the cost of borrowing to over ten times the rate Germany borrows at. This caused what could have been a controllable deficit to mushroom into a massive and unaffordable debt within a matter of months.
general secretary Manuel Cortes
Challenging ‘private good, public bad’ dogma ‘The latest proposal for the rearrangement of the deckchairs on the Titanic has one very clear winner – private train operators.’
As you are probably aware, the UK Government recently published its much delayed Command Paper on the future of our railways in response to Sir Roy McNulty’s deeply flawed review of their operation. The Transport Secretary has opted to introduce changes in a way that is fundamentally undemocratic. Frankly, this shows how worried they are about the continuing unpopularity of the botched job that rail privatisation is. Ministers are fully aware how unpopular any MP would become if they to voted for the closure of one of the 675 Category E ticket offices were it in their constituency. In an act of naked cowardice, they have opted to completely by-pass Parliament by outsourcing their dirty work to the subservient private train operators through franchise agreements. This will in effect be closure by stealth, without an ounce of democratic accountability. I am sure that older readers will remember a Tory Transport Secretary promising that privatisation would lead to cheaper fares and a lower level of public subsidy. Twenty years on, another Tory Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, to no-one’s great surprise, told us – what our union has always said – that this isn’t the case. You would have thought that, having admitted that privatisation had failed, she would have backed the glaringly obvious alternative – public ownership! Unfortunately, humility and common sense play no part in the Tories’ DNA. The best she could come up with was to yet again tinker around the edges of this broken system, even though over £6.5 billion has been siphoned from the industry via dividend payments since privatisation. The proposed next rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic has one very clear winner – private train operators. They will be given greater freedoms and with it, the chance to make even more money for their fat cat directors and shareholders. Of course, our members - and passengers – will have to deal with the fallout of one in four booking offices in England and Wales being earmarked for closure. Our union will not shy away from taking whatever action is
needed to halt this madness and defend your livelihoods. This means working hard with the communities that you serve to defeat these proposals. You can find out how you can play your part in our campaign at www.togetherfor transport.org. The dogmatic approach to how the UK’s railways ‘must’ be run is part of a wider malaise. It is best summed up with words to the effect that ‘private is good and public is bad’ – let the market rule supreme seems to be the motto. Nowhere is this more evident that in the way that Governments are dealing with the economic crisis. It was the unfettered greed of private financial institutions that brought us to the edge of the economic abyss. However, it is public services and ordinary working people who are suffering the brunt of the cuts. There is extensive coverage in this Journal about the desperate situation that far too many ordinary Greeks are facing. I have to be brutally honest and tell you that I never thought that in the 21st Century, in the so called First World, I would see people having to queue to get a meal from a soup kitchen. Sadly, the casualties of this economic collapse are far too real. As you have may seen in the media, a pensioner recently shot himself outside the Greek Parliament as he could not bring himself to have to search for his next meal out of rubbish cans. Austerity is unleashing untold misery on millions of ordinary people across Europe. In the face of this, trade unions need to do all we can to show solidarity. Sadly, this very same dogma is leading both the British and Irish Government down the wrong path. They should be seeking policies that prioritise economic growth and put people back to work. Economic history tells us that no country has ever got out of a deep economic crisis through cutting to the bone and beyond. Yet, in the UK, our Government’s priorities are all wrong: a tax cut for millionaires whilst you get a hike in National Insurance contributions and cuts to public services. They are completely out of touch. Many of you will have the opportunity to make a difference in upcoming local elections – I urge you to use your vote wisely!
London elec tions
With Ken back in City Hall, TSSA members would be assured of a Mayor who would always take our concerns seriously.
Ken for Mayor: Putting transport centre-stage Londoners have a choice over the next week – to elect Labour’s Ken Livingstone, who will defend and improve their public services whilst putting money back in their pockets, or return the Tory incumbent who even a majority of his own supporters say is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Londoners. David Cameron is desperate for the Conservative Mayor to remain in power, whilst his defeat would mark a real turning of the tide against the Tory-led Government. TSSA members have the choice between backing Labour’s Ken Livingstone, who has worked closely with TSSA in developing sections of his manifesto, or allowing Boris Johnson to get back in – a Mayor who has not found time in the last four years to meet the transport unions even once. Ken has made specific manifesto pledges to support TSSA members whose jobs have been put at risk by the current administration. Ken says, ‘Johnson has been trying to privatise the section of TfL
that regulates private hire and taxi drivers. In the interests of passengers, I will put a stop to talk of privatised taxi and private hire regulator and will rule out any tampering with the Knowledge.’ This is just one example of the positive relationship that would be possible under a Labour-run City Hall. A Mayor who will listen Whilst relations with any employer will always see times when differences emerge, TSSA members can be sure that were the Labour team returned to City Hall, our concerns would always be taken seriously by the Mayor and those advising him. It would mark a sea-change from the Johnson administration who would rather ramp-up anti-union sentiment in the press than hold serious discussions with their workers’ reps. One of Ken’s driving forces has always been to improve the lot of ordinary Londoners through affordable, high quality transport. He has put transport at the heart of his campaign with the pledge
to return money to the pockets of Londoners in these tough times by reversing this year’s 7 per cent fare hike and freezing fares in 2013. Detailed analysis of TfL’s finances has shown how large surpluses have been building up – £727 million last year and what looks to be a further £400 million this year. This cash hoarding can be brought under control without impacting on much needed investment, as the total cost of Ken’s Fare Deal policy is a comparatively small £270 million. Planning future improvements to London’s transport network is another activity which has all but stopped under the Conservative administration. As Ken says ‘One of the most important achievements of my first two terms of office was to end the decades-long logjam to secure financing for Crossrail 1. I will apply the same approach and determination to generate support for Crossrail 2, the core of which will be a line from Chelsea to Hackney. I will also set about legally safeguarding the route
London elections for Crossrail 3 between Euston and Waterloo.’ Whilst funding for actual construction is unlikely to be forthcoming at the moment, Boris Johnson’s administration has not even done the preparatory work to make the case and mobilise support for such projects. This short-sightedness has the effect of pushing these much-needed capacity improvements – and the economic benefits they would bring – even further into the future. A Mayor to defend all Londoners, not protect the richest Instead of seeking to ease the burden for ordinary Londoners, Boris Johnson has made a priority out of lobbying the government to give a tax cut to the richest in society, repeatedly arguing against the 50p top rate of tax. ‘In the budget, the Conservative government launched an attack on Londoners’ living standards. Four hundred thousand London pensioners were hit by the Granny Tax. Two hundred and fifty thousand families in London lost tax credits’ says Ken. ‘London needs a mayor who will stand up to that attack and do what they can to help working Londoners. Instead, all he did is lobby to cut tax for people on £150,000 a year – five times what the average working Londoner earns.’ Given the current Mayor earns £250,000 a year for his ‘second job’ as a Telegraph columnist – a figure he has dismissed as ‘chicken-feed’ – it is unsurprising he has little understanding of the financial stresses on ordinary families. Ken’s manifesto – online at www.kenlivingstone.com – lists a series of pledges to help Londoners through these tough times, from driving down rents to pledging help with affordable childcare.
Your choice, our future On Thursday 3 May voters in London have a chance to turn the tide on this Tory government and their attacks on ordinary working people. Voters get two selections for Mayor – a first preference, and then a second preference to choose between the top two candidates, were their first preference to have been knocked out. There are also elections for constituency and London-wide Assembly members. 7
‘I make this pledge: if I have not delivered a 7 per cent fares cut by 7 October 2012 then I will resign as Mayor.’
For more information see www.londonelects.org.uk. Use your vote, and help return a Mayor who’s there for all Londoners.
From the Conservative Mayor’s manifesto section entitled ‘Industrial Relations’: ‘The underground network is too often disrupted by reckless union action. Union bosses cannot be allowed to hold London to ransom in pursuit of unjustified claims. ‘I will continue to lobby No. 10 to change Britain’s strike laws to introduce a minimum turnout, so that strikes can only go ahead when at least 50 per cent of all eligible union workers participate in the ballot.’ It should be noted that turnout in the election which saw him become Mayor was 45 per cent. In his last manifesto, Johnson promised he would be ‘negotiating a nostrike deal, in good faith, with the Tube unions’. He hasn’t even had the courtesy to meet union representatives once during the last four years. This is perhaps less surprising when his official diary reveals he has met bankers more often than his own senior police commanders.
Ken will: l Cut fares, reducing the cash mountain currently hoarded by TfL, whilst maintaining investment levels. Even if you benefit from concessionary travel, this will save friends and family members an average of £1,000 over four years on their bus, Tube, DLR, Overground and tram fares. l Crack down on crime by reversing the Tory Mayor’s police cuts which have seen the Met shrink by 1700 officers. l Help reduce rents with a London nonprofit lettings agency to connect quality-approved landlords with tenants, saving fees for both. l Cut heating bills – cutting out the ripoff energy utilities to offer Londoners up to £120 off their energy bills, plus free home insulation for those in fuel poverty, including pensioners. l Establish a London-wide Education Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 a week to help young people stay in education. l Support childcare with grants and interest-free loans.
Christian Wolmar Christian Wolmar examines the misconceptions at the heart of the Government’s new policy.
Another fine mess of a rail policy The government’s Command Paper, Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First, which was finally published in early March, was expected to provide answers to a number of issues facing the rail industry. The lengthy delay to its publication only served to raise the level of anticipation further since the railways have been clouded in an aura of uncertainty since the process to examine the high cost of the industry was started by the Labour government three years ago. It has been an odd process. The notion that our railways are more expensive than those abroad has become conventional wisdom, seemingly accepted by both politicians and railway managers, and yet it has become something of a circular argument. Indeed, it’s been rather like a chain letter passed on around the
Department of Transport. First we had Labour ministers suggesting that the railways were too expensive, and so Sir Roy McNulty was appointed to look at why this might be the case. But rather than starting with an open mind, he seemed to have concluded right from the outset that the British railways were costing some 30 per cent more than equivalent systems in Europe. So, surprise, surprise, when he reported a year ago, he found that yes, indeed, that level of savings could be made. However, the precise way in which these reductions in cost could be made was left to others. McNulty identified various vague ways of making savings, such as ‘aligning incentives’ and ‘better management’, but there was precious little detail of how savings could be achieved. Indeed, his key finding was that
the railways were too fragmented, and yet his proposed solutions did nothing to address that fundamental problem. The detailed measures required were, therefore, expected to be found in the Command Paper, the government’s response to McNulty. Thrown in to the mix, too, was franchise reform, widely trailed as requiring longer franchises with less interference from the Department in operations. Just to make things a bit more complicated, the Office of Rail Regulation, under a new leader who is far more dynamic than his predecessor, has been angling to extend its regulatory role to the train operating companies, as well as Network Rail. The operators are adamantly opposed to this as they are wary of any closer scrutiny. So the Command Paper was expected to provide answers to various issues – all of which the rail
Christian Wolmar industry needs to be able to respond to – to improve its performance. Yet, it does nothing of the sort. First, the idea of franchising reform was simply jettisoned. There will be no major review of the system and instead we will get a ‘horses for courses’ arrangement. Secondly, the decisions about regulation will be made in the future. As for costs, the paper merely reiterates the view that the railways are more expensive than elsewhere, but takes us no further down the path of explaining how this can be tackled and what actual changes are needed. The magic figure of 30 per cent – or some £3-3.5bn annually – is merely repeated, and the Paper says it is up to the Rail Delivery Group, a semi voluntary committee of senior rail managers from across the industry, to work out how to make the savings. The problem is the lack of any detail. Network Rail is already expected to make half of the total savings, leaving the rest to come from the operators and the rolling stock companies. But the government has virtually no control over these. The train operators will bid for the franchises on the basis of what they feel they can afford and still make a profit. Many of their costs are fixed and, moreover, the government wants them to spend more on investment. As for the rolling stock companies, we
McNulty seemed to conclude from the outset that British railways were costing 30 per cent more. So, surprise, surprise, he then found that yes, that level of savings could be made.
have been here before. The Labour government launched a costly investigation into their practices and in essence they were given a clean sheet. The Competition Commission found that it was the system and the risks it imposed on them which result in higher charges, not rank profiteering. Don’t get me wrong. I am convinced there is fantastic waste in the industry. There are all sorts of practices which are unnecessary, and an excessive focus on safety, often out of proportion to the risks, is often the root cause. Take, for example, the fact that many new carriages are taken to their destination by road because of the bureaucratic procedures required to create a train path, satisfy safety requirements and ensure the loading gauge is correct. Every time a carriage is transported in that way, it is a slap in the face for the railway. There are many similar examples. The constant exhortations to ‘align incentives’ are just so much hot air. There was no more compelling recognition of the failure of the fragmented railway than one
We have a particularly intensively used railway with more off-peak trains, providing a good, but more expensive, service. Major new investment, such as the Kings Cross redevelopment, is coming to fruition, yet billions may be ripped out of the system.
of the reasons given by Sea Containers for throwing in the towel on the East Coast franchise: Network Rail had been performing too well and therefore not enough money was paid to the operator in compensation payments. The McNulty report and the Command Paper both fail to address such contradictions. However, there is nothing to justify the figure of 30 per cent since the accounts of overseas railways are often produced on a very different basis. Moreover, there are all sorts of other factors, such as the fact we have a particularly intensively used railway and we tend to have more off-peak trains which provides a good, but more expensive, service. All this leaves the railways in a bizarre, almost paradoxical, situation. On the one hand, they are enjoying more investment and support from the government than for more than a generation. Moreover, this is not only happening in a time of austerity, but also with cross-party support. Yet, overhanging this, there is the fear that the failure to understand the constraints under which the railways operate, many of which are caused by the problems of the crazy privatised structure that McNulty failed to address, will result in unsustainable cutbacks. The key decisions will come in July when the High Level Output Specification – the plans for railway investment for 2014-9 – and the SOFA – Statement of Funds Available – are published. Then we will know the real extent of the commitment of this government to the railways. The Command Paper has really just been yet another restatement of the bleedin’ obvious. 7
i Christian Wolmar’s latest book, The
Great Railway Revolution, the epic story of the American railroad, will be published in May by Atlantic Books.
Agree? Disagree? Get in touch with your views: email@example.com BY-ND 2 Hannah Webb
Privatisation – is the tide turning?
Paul Salveson looks at the hopeful signs emerging from Labour’s policy review
For many years, the unions have been ploughing a lonely furrow in their opposition to privatisation. The Blair era was all about ‘markets’ – public ownership was a phrase not to be uttered in polite company. Despite now having the most right-wing government for decades we’re actually beginning to see some fresh thinking in the Labour movement which could reverse the last two decades’ unspoken – but very real – commitment to privatised rail and bus services. I think there are a number of reasons for this. The notorious McNulty Report – initiated, for the best of reasons, by Lord Adonis when he was Transport Secretary in the last year of the Labour Government – has let quite a few cats out of the bag. He identified how expensive the railway is to run compared with similar operations abroad, even if his prescriptions would only add to the
fragmentation of the UK network. A second factor is simply the passage of time and the experience that comes with it. We’ve had rail privatisation for nearly twenty years and bus de-regulation and privatisation for longer. Have things improved? On the buses, outside nonderegulated London, bus use continues its steady decline. On the railways, passenger numbers have grown dramatically, but few would attribute this to private entrepreneurial zeal. If anything, the
‘Stagecoach accused the transport authority Nexus of ‘operating in the same camp as Marx, Lenin and Trotsky’ for their relatively modest ‘quality contract’
railways are more state-controlled than they have ever been, but delivered by the private sector, which increasingly means foreign state-owned railways. The railways of the Netherlands and Germany are doing very nicely, partly thanks to the profits that their UK subsidiaries are making. A sign of the changing times was the recent conference at the University of Huddersfield on Reforming the Railways. It was unusual for at least two reasons. Firstly, a leading trade unionist – our own Manuel – was amongst the speakers. Secondly, a senior Labour politician – Lilian Greenwood – was able to stand up and say the unsayable: that privatisation has failed and we should be looking at alternative models which should include forms of social ownership. On one hand this was not new and Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle said much the same at last year’s Labour Party conference.
Paul Sal veson Since then, Labour’s thinking has developed and Lilian – Maria’s Shadow Rail Minister, was able to spell out some of the detail. Her judgement on rail privatisation was pretty damning – ‘It’s clear that rail privatisation has not delivered,’ she said. ‘Yes, we have had enormous passenger growth and investment in infrastructure in recent years – but there is no evidence this has come from privatisation. In fact the years after privatisation saw little in the way of major investment, with the huge leap forward only beginning under the last Labour government. And that investment was funded by the tax-payer along with on-going subsidy of services, despite operators walking away with large profits in some cases’. A strong thrust in Lilian’s speech was that Labour would support the devolution of local and regional services to strong regional bodies. We’ve already seen the metropolitan transport authorities make huge advances in rail, with electrification, new stations, re-openings and new rolling stock. Labour is suggesting a much more extensive devolution, with the powers and resources to go with it, to create the sort of high quality regional networks we see in Germany, combining rail, bus and tram in a single seamless network which is fully accountable to elected regional authorities. Services would not necessarily be delivered by the private sector. She commented that ‘we would support alternatives to the existing model of franchising, including not for profit and mutual options’. All of which is welcome, and very much endorsed by Manuel in his contribution where he argued for a new approach to a socialised railway, rather than a ‘BR Mk 2’. Devolving rail to the regions will allow accountable public bodies to determine how local and regional services are delivered. But what about the national network which isn’t suitable for handing over to regional bodies but needs a strong strategic direction? ‘For those services that are clearly national,’ said Lilian, ‘for example the East and West Coast main lines and the new high speed lines – we have to find a better way of addressing the costly fragmentation that is the legacy of
privatisation: a model where the needs of passengers and the British economy come before private profit’. So without being too prescriptive, Labour is opening the door to a unified, publicly-owned InterCity network. It’s not really all that revolutionary. Germany has a publicly-owned inter-city network, so has France, Sweden and Italy. Each has thriving regional networks which are separately managed but dovetail with the national high-speed networks. Yet in a British context, it’s radical stuff. The options include a state-owned company, or other models which could include cooperative structures with a mix of employee, passenger and government
where Nexus – the Labour-controlled transport authority – has been trying to get bus operators to agree to a relatively modest ‘quality contract’ to bring some degree of stability to the local bus network. This would see the authority setting times and fares for the network as a whole. A report in the local press revealed that Nexus staff were told by Stagecoach that the plan was ‘blackmail’ and ‘theft to keep local authorities officers in jobs and to steal operators’ businesses’. The irate Stagecoach spokesman accused Nexus of ‘operating in the same camp as Marx, Lenin and Trotsky’. All of which is entertaining stuff, but there’s a nasty sting in the tail. He added that ‘If the transport authority were
Without being too prescriptive, Labour is opening the door to a unified, publicly-owned InterCity network
Shadow Rail Minister Lilian Greenwood MP
ownership. Ironically, this was precisely the vision of our forebears in the Railway Clerks Association, a hundred years ago! Maria Eagle and Lilian Greenwood are inviting transport experts – and that would include every single member of TSSA – to get involved in a debate on how we should build a modern, enterprising railway which is publicly accountable. There’s going to be plenty of voices with a vested interest raised against them and they will need strong support from their allies in the unions. But it’s looking very much like Labour will fight the next general election with a commitment to rolling back rail privatisation with something infinitely better for the passenger, the transport worker, industry, and the economy as a whole. But don’t expect it to be an easy ride. The sort of attacks they may find themselves facing have been demonstrated recently in the North-East
successful in the European Court, they would need to be prepared to take over bus services straight away as Stagecoach would immediately cease operations. Stagecoach would not hand over any of its depots to Nexus; the company would move its buses elsewhere and make all staff redundant’. Which is about as near to a declaration of class war as you’ll get. The private bus groups have done well out of deregulation and privatisation, despite falling passenger numbers, over-inflation fare rises and the sort of arrogance towards elected bodies exemplified in the Stagecoach manager’s statement. I’m told that Stagecoach makes a 23 per cent profit margin from its North-East operation. It’s enough to make anyone a Trotskyist! 7
i Paul Salveson is a member of TSSA’s
Yorkshire Ridings Branch and a visiting professor in Transport and Logistics at the University of Huddersfield. www.paulsalveson.org.uk
TSSA personal injury service
“Neither the company nor the contractor was willing to say they were responsible for me falling off the steps. But thanks to TSSA they both had to pay my damages” says Lewis. Lewis had been walking up the steps on a Monday morning at work when he slipped and landed heavily on his lower back. “The week before my accident, a contracting firm had been carrying out some kind of work on the steps, but it looked like they had finished. There was no sign that the steps were in any way unfinished or possibly dangerous.” Working in a busy travel agency, Lewis’ job required sitting for long periods and the pain in his back from his fall became unbearable. “I had to take time off work, which I hate doing. After a month, a friend, who is also our TSSA rep, suggested that I call the 0800 number for advice. I was still in pain, so I called. It was the smartest thing I could have done.” Through TSSA, Lewis was put in touch with Fiona at Morrish Solicitors. “Fiona was brilliant. She confirmed my details and wrote
to my employer about my accident. They said they were not at fault and blamed the contractors who carried out the work. Of course when Fiona wrote to the contractors, they blamed my employers, saying they had completed most of their work other than a few bits which needed finishing. They said it was my employer’s fault for not putting out the warning signs as instructed. If I had tried to do the claim on my own, I’d have given up at that point. It looked like there would be too much going back-and-forth. But Fiona was ace. She wrote to both of them saying she would commence court proceedings, but offered them that they could split my compensation 50/50.” Both the employer and the contractor agreed the terms. By this time Lewis was undergoing physiotherapy for the continuing pain in his back. Fiona got further medical evidence which showed that the injury to Lewis’ lower back could be expected to fully recover within 18 months of the accident. “I agreed to a £4,000 settlement, which covered my physio costs and the time I’d had to take off work. From the time I
CC BY SA Dann
Winning compensation even when all deny fault
Thankfully, the incident wasn’t quite this severe
called the 0800 number to the time I received my damages cheque was 12 months, almost to the day. I was really pleased with the result from TSSA and Fiona at Morrish because if it had been purely up to me, I’d have given up at the first hurdle. 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 Thankfully, the incident wasn’t quite this severe. Thankfully, the incident wasn’t quite this severe
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
ACCIDENTS OUTSIDE WORK
TSSA Personal Injury Services Free to Members & their families
0800 093 0353
ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
SLIPS OR TRIPS
hel pdesk If you have a question about your workplace rights, call our employment law specialists on 0800 3282673 in the UK or 1800 805272 in the Republic of Ireland or email firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: Monday to Thursday 8am–6pm Friday 8am–5pm
CC BY NC SA 2 Tom Roper
now on half pay. I have just been made redundant after six years with the company. They told me that I am expected to use up my annual leave during my one month contractual notice period. I was hoping they would pay me in lieu at the end of my notice but I think they just want to get away with paying me half pay until I finish.
A. There’s quite a bit to unravel in
In the case of annual leave, if you took it during a period of long term sickness (which you are entitled to do) then that would be paid at your normal rate of pay, even if you weren’t receiving sick pay.
Representation during investigations Q. I am a local rep and one of my members has been called to an investigatory hearing over a charge of gross misconduct. She has asked me to attend with her but the manager has said she’s not allowed a rep. Is that right? And if so, what should I advise her to look out for?
Republic of Ireland
A. There is no general right to representation at investigatory hearings, but you should check the company disciplinary procedures to see if there is any agreement between the company and the union to allow for representation. If not then the employer still needs to take steps to act fairly and impartially, and the depth of the investigation should be commensurate with the severity of
the allegation. So for gross misconduct, where a dismissal is likely it must be far more rigorous than for something that may only merit a written warning. You should advise your member that if she thinks the meeting is turning from an investigatory meeting into a disciplinary, for example they make statements like ‘you did it’, rather than asking ‘did you do it?’ then she should seek an adjournment until she has a rep available, and make sure her reason is minuted so they can’t accuse her of refusing to attend. As a rep, you should try to ensure that she has been supplied with any relevant documentation, such as witness statements, before the meeting and that she be given time to prepare. It should also be ensured that the investigation has been even-handed and confined to the facts of the case. It should search all the relevant evidence, and not just any evidence that supports allegations against an employee. As she has not been suspended you could also challenge the seriousness of the allegation if it goes to a disciplinary hearing.
this one. The first question I would ask is why you are only getting one month’s notice. Your contract may say one month but you have a statutory right to one week for every year of employment up to a maximum of 12 weeks, so you should be getting six weeks notice for a start. Your employer can insist that you take leave during your notice period, but under the Working Time Regulations they have to give you twice as much notice as the number of days leave they require you to take, so as you have been off sick and have 28 days outstanding they will have to give you 56 days notice. If they can’t do that then they can’t force you to take it. As far as pay is concerned, it gets more complicated. If an employee is off sick during their notice period they will have the right to their normal pay and benefits, as set out in the contract of employment, provided their statutory notice is longer than their contractual notice by at least one week. As you have one month contractual notice and six weeks statutory you are OK. Had your contractual notice been longer than your statutory notice you would only be entitled to your sick pay.
0800 3282673/1800 805272
Off sick when made redundant Q. I am on long term sick and
Executive Committee elections 2012 EVERY YEAR, TSSA members elect a new Executive Committee Representative for a third of TSSA’s Divisions. This year it is the turn of the Midlands, South Wales and West, Anglia and London North East and Lancashire and Cumbria Divisions. Bill Monteith was elected unopposed for South Wales and West and John Prest was elected unopposed for Anglia and London North East. Midlands and Lancashire and Cumbria elections are still on-going and the results of these will be published online and in the Journal as soon as possible. All new the EC members will take up their posts on 1 July 2012 for a three year term of office which will conclude on 30 June 2015. They will then be eligible for re-election for a further three year term.
How should it be structured? Who should be accountable? Who sets the fares? If billions are to be spent on rail infrastructure is HS2 the right recipient? not least for those within transport. Apart from the concerted assault on our wages, pensions, conditions and living standards we are confronted by initiatives such as McNulty, which will seriously impact our members. If elected I will do my utmost to protect our members and to represent them to the best of my ability. ’
l Maria Eagle MP
Shadow Secretary of State l Manuel Cortes general secretary, TSSA l Mark Dowd chair of the group of Integrated Transport Authorities
Saturday 16 June 9.30-2pm John Prest Anglia and London North East
Friends Meeting House, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BT To book a place: email Mike Parker, chair of the Labour Transport Group, at email@example.com by 20 May.
Bill Monteith South Wales and Western
Bill has been an active member of TSSA since joining from ASLEF on promotion to a management position. A Railwayman for 35 years, he is a rep with First Great Western at Bristol. He is chairman of the National TOC Committee and a member of the TOC Film and Communications Group. A committed trade unionist he is a member of the Labour Party and for 16 years has been a councillor, twice being elected to serve as Mayor of his hometown, Bridgwater. Bill is married with three children. Bill says ‘These are worrying times,
What’s the future of rail under the next Labour government?
John says ‘For over 20 years since I first started work, I have been an active trade unionist and have had the privilege of belonging to a number of trade unions during my varied careers. Since joining Network Rail in 2001 and becoming a TSSA Rep, I believe that the current climate we are in is unquestionably the most testing for those of us with traditional trade union values. ‘Our members face constant attacks on their livelihoods and their working conditions from government and ruthless employers who have forgotten that the people who work for them are their most prized assets. As an EC member and an active TSSA National Rep, I will embrace the challenges we all face and continue to ensure that those of us who serve our members ensure that their best interests always comes first.7
Railway Employees Privilege Ticket Association 2012 REPTA membership is available now for all transport industry staff and families, active and retired. Many free, discounted and special rates are available to members as described in our information packed Yearbook. £4.50 per year including p&p. Additional cards for family members £3. New for 2012: Family membership – two adults and all children up to age 18 for £9 including P&P. Send cheques/postal orders payable to ‘REPTA’ to: Colin Rolle,4 Brackmills Close, Forest Town, Mansfield, NG19 0PB or join on line. See: www.repta.co.uk. New: Discount cinema tickets. You can also book rail travel with Raileasy via www.repta.co.uk.
equalities Join World Pride on 7 July: For full details see www.pridelondon.org/bigday/worldpride
World Pride comes to London
Eileen Barnard-Harris, TSSA Spectrum
WITH SO MANY major events happening across the UK, 2012 is shaping up to be a busy year. In the LGBT community, we have a reason to celebrate in particular, as World Pride comes to London this summer. The Pride movement started in America in the late 1960s, at a time when antiâ€“LGBT feeling was high. Attacks on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community were common, police raids on gay bars frequent. The Stonewall Inn was one of the few bars in New York City that welcomed openly gay customers. It catered to a variety of people but was known to be popular with the poorest and most
marginalised in the LGBT community, including drag queens, members of a newly formed transgender community and homeless young people. In the early hours of 28 June 1969, a group of customers who had grown angry at the continual police harassment took a stand. A riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city, the customers of the inn were soon joined by hundreds of other gay men and women. Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night the crowd returned in even larger numbers, reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-
Please join us for an informal meeting of TSSA members for a meal and a few drinks in Cardiff. Open to all LGBT TSSA members and friends.
Saturday 12 May 2012 7pm Meet in Golden Cross, 282 Hayes Road, Cardiff
Spectrum is the selforganised group for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered members.
control squad to disperse the crowd. As a result of this, activists organised themselves and over the next few months, lesbian and gay groups started to form both in the US and elsewhere â€“ including here in the UK, with our own Gay Liberation Front. Pride began in New York on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riot and quickly spread to every major American city, as well as to Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. The London Pride parade has run since 1972 with many UK cities following suit. The aim is to campaign, celebrate and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Throughout the years activists have campaigned to equalise the age of consent, against Section 28, for transequality and for equal marriage. World Pride was established to promote this on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities. This
year the parade takes place in London on 7 July with TSSA proposing that we celebrate this in the same way as we celebrate all other major events like the World Cup and Olympics. Spectrum, the self organised group of LGBT members in TSSA, has put together a template letter that has been sent to employers asking them to consider how they will join in to celebrate World Pride. TSSA and Spectrum are coordinating a training event for those interested in campaigning on LGBT issues in the workplace, on the weekend of the parade in London. 7
If you want to be involved and attend the weekend, please contact Kerry Abel (Equalities and Diversity Organiser) on firstname.lastname@example.org or Spectrum on SpectrumLGBT@tssa.org.uk. If you would like posters advertising the event for your workplace please contact us.
letters and reviews This is your chance to share your views with thousands of other TSSA members. The deadline for the next issue is 1 June. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Email email@example.com or write to TSSA Journal, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EJ.
letters & reviews
Branches: a great support network When Colin Savage initially wanted advice about how to take forward his ideas for recruiting and activating Amey employees locally, he came to his branch (London S.E. and Sussex), who were able to help him. The other members offered him guidance, passing on their extensive knowledge. Throughout his endeavours and those of his colleagues, he was supported fully by the branch even when things were not going to plan. He in turn was able to help his colleagues elsewhere in the country. I believe this proves that going to your local Branch can have far reaching consequences for your members and should be encouraged. Hilary Hosking London S.E. and Sussex
A history of hopes for a better future ‘Socialism with a Northern Accent – Radical traditions for modern times’ by TSSA member Paul Salveson is a 224 page volume containing the story of the roots of socialism in England. Brought to light are those half-remembered events and characters that lurk in the minds of many union members. The story starts in 1789 with French Revolution and runs through to 2010. By way of asides, there are a series of one and two page biographies of the many characters scattered through the text. The text pulls together many strands to produce a coherent story of socialism. Without mentioning it explicitly, the divide between North and South becomes clear. However this is not a blueprint for a return to the old ways, more a laying out of the story so far and a desire that progress from here on is built on good foundations. In the past, the north was home of great enterprise and this spirit is far from dead.
It’s no accident that Grand Central, which very much runs from the North East and the West Riding of Yorkshire to London has the highest customer rating of any TOC! This book is essential reading if the past is to inform the future.
Available to TSSA members at £11.99 plus postage, direct from publishers Lawrence & Wishart https://bit.ly/northernbook.
Obituary: Bill Brett BILL BRETT – more recently Lord Brett has passed away aged 70 after a long illness. Born in Manchester he left school aged 16 and became a booking office clerk. Two years later – in 1960 – he got his first union job as an administrative assistant for the TSSA. He subsequently worked for several unions before becoming assistant general secretary of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists – now Prospect. After retiring in 1999 he was deeply involved in the International Labour Office in both Geneva and London as well as being an active member of the Lords after his ennoblement in 1999. He served as a government whip and stand-in Home Office spokesman in the Lords. He is survived by his third wife Amanda, two children from his first marriage and two from his second.
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