Northern Rail staff vote for strike action over "lies and dirty tricks"

Published on Monday, 20 May 2013 16:24
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

RMT confirmed today that Northern Rail staff have voted for strike action in a bitter dispute over the casualisation of core rail work against the background of a campaign of lies and dirty tricks by company managers designed to interfere in the internal balloting process.

Northern Rail management have run a cynical campaign throughout the balloting period attempting to bully staff through a series of attacks on RMT union officials and a barrage of totally false propaganda. Despite that RMT members have voted by almost 58% for action .

The result will now be considered by RMT's executive

The dispute is over a growing move to casualise rail functions through the use of cheapskate agencies at the expense of permanent jobs and negotiated pay and working conditions. RMT has completely destroyed Northern Rails bogus claims that they are only "trialling" the use of casual staff when the fact is that over a period of time they have escalated the use of agency workers into core areas of their business with the sole objective of being able to undercut pay and conditions while opening up the opportunity to hire and fire at will.

RMT has said throughout that there is no doubt that the company policy is to roll out the use of casual staff into all possible areas of their operations, effectively delivering skilled rail jobs on the "lump", impacting on all permanent staff in the name of "flexibility" and profit. That is why RMT balloted all members for strike action because every single employee is threatened by this introduction of wholesale casualisation by stealth.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"It is a tribute to our members that despite an unprecedented campaign of individual pressure through a highly-resourced campaign of intimidation by the company they have stood firm and voted for action. RMT is angry that instead of sitting down with the union to address the issues at the heart of this dispute, management have resorted to a campaign of smears and personal attacks in a desperate attempt to influence the outcome of this secret trade union ballot. With this mandate secured there is no excuse for the company to continue to refuse to enter meaningful talks.

"There is rock-sold evidence of a deliberate and cynical drive to use casual, agency staff to undermine job security, pay and working conditions on Northern Rail and our members are furious that not only have the company refused to stop this practice but they are driving it forwards. Everyone in the workforce knows it because they can see it with their own eyes. Casualisation is now the policy of Northern as they seek to deliver core rail jobs on the "lump" and if it isn't stopped now there is no question they will seek to roll it out across all grades and that is why all members have been balloted – gate line today, the rest tomorrow if we don't call a halt now.

" The union's executive will now consider this result but RMT's core demand could not be clearer, an immediate end to Northern Rail casualising the workforce. If there is work that needs doing, it should be done by permanently employed staff on decent pay and conditions, including the current agency staff, and not by an exploited, short-term workforce paid a pittance and denied the most basic of workplace benefits and who can be hired and fired at will in the name of pumping up profits."

Source: RMT

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