1994 Signallers dispute

There is nobody running a box who is not competent for the duties. Martin Reynolds, Director Railtrack Great Western.

It’s put me in a terrible position. How can they ask me to do what they call a safety critical job when I know – and they know – I am not qualified to do it? I had to refuse, but they’ve made it clear that this will be held against me in the future. Railway Inspector, speaking to the Observer.

It’s 25 years since the national RMT signallers’ strike. I participated not as a signaller but as an RMT branch secretary. I’ve brought together some Swindon RMT Newsletters, material challenging the management use of untrained staff to strike-break, and a pamphlet which was written at the end of the dispute. The pamphlet says:

“We have tried to explain the context in which the signal operators dispute has taken place. Whilst it is a wages dispute, it also concerns conditions of service. Railtrack are seeking to cut their costs under the financial pressures of privatisation. The safety of the passengers is literally in the hands of these staff. The dispute could have been settled for a fraction of the cost that Railtrack and the other businesses have incurred. But a political decision was taken by the government to prevent Railtrack from giving an offer to a few thousand staff which supposedly broke their pay policy. Hence the farce of the withdrawn 5.7%,”

See https://martinwicks.org/trade-union-articles/

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