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  • These rail strikes then…
  • rockandrollmark
    Full Member

    Devils advocate here – no-one else is getting wage inflation anywhere near cost inflation so why should they be any different?

    Devils advocate here. Wages have stagnated for decades whilst simultaneously the cost of living has increased, housing prices have continued to rise, large corporations openly boast about making obscene profits, and the wealth divide continues to widen.

    But we’ve all just sat here accepted that cost-of-living pay rises are a thing of the past.

    If we had more unions pushing for pay-rises that matched inflation we wouldn’t be in a situation whereby someone can work five days a week, be stuck in private rental with no hope of being able to save a deposit to buy a starter home, and still have to rely on food banks and school dinners to ensure their family’s fed.

    Kato
    Full Member

    @andrewh

    the cost to change the infrastructure and signalling to make driverless trains a reality isn’t cost effective. It is cheaper to pay the drivers

    and as an ASLEF driver we aren’t actually on strike,  even though the Daily Mail is banging on about how overpaid we are this is actually about RMT protecting their members jobs and employment rights. They are the platform staff and track workers who don’t earn anywhere near what the drivers do

    Northwind
    Full Member

    I don’t how how directly applicable this infographic is to the UK, but I can’t find a UK equivalent and it’s probably reasonably indicative. The numbers will differ, the thrust probably doesn’t.

    andrewh
    Free Member

    Surely driverless trains must be technically easier to do than driverless cars?
    Oh no, but if we introduce them the drivers will go on strike….

    Driverless trains would definitely increase the risk of accidents and loss of life, especially because of our stupidly fractured rail network but, is it acceptable for the cost savings? Unifying everything under a single provider and service would make it much easier. Actually modernising infrastructure instead of doing the bare minimum would do more. These aren’t quite prerequisites but they’re the difference between risk-taking and doing it right.

    The other thing is, rail operators always, always, see “driverless trains” as a way of deskilling. The driver isn’t just the driver, they’re the person in charge when shit hits the fan (assuming they survive said fan). If well-implemented, safe driverless trains were always accompanied by a strictly matched level of skilled staffing, that’d be a positive. It puts more staff into face-to-face which is great. But, the operators don’t want that. In the past we’ve literally seen operators say “we’re removing train guards but we still have catering staff on the train so there’s no loss of safety”.

    So, driverless trains done right? Absolutely, let’s do it. But that’s not what’s on offer, and it never will be when cost is the priority. In the real world of 2022 tory privatised britain, driverless trains is code for having a subcontracted cleaner on minimum wage dealing with the inevitable crashes when 50, 60, 70 year old infrastructure that’s been pushed too hard and had its safety checks reduced goes wrong.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    If we had more unions pushing for pay-rises that matched inflation we wouldn’t be in a situation whereby someone can work five days a week, be stuck in private rental with no hope of being able to save a deposit to buy a starter home, and still have to rely on food banks and school dinners to ensure their family’s fed

    This.

    If people are outraged because the Scottish drivers got a 5% rise whilst nurses get 2%, stop and think about who deserves the outrage.

    If people are outraged that one of the few remaining unions with power can get a fair deal for their workers whilst everyone else gets crap, stop and think about who deserves the outrage.

    Sick and tired of the same old union bashing shite, if you’re happy with crap conditions then batter on but quit trying to pull everyone else down with you.

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    Why would a loss making industry want to agree to increase those losses?

    There’s your mistake. It’s not an industry it’s a public service and profit should be nowhere in the financial planning. Without this service traffic and city centres would be inn an even worse condition than currently.

    Mind you if the Torys go full trains on time and more services we will have entered a period of Facism.

    darkcove
    Full Member

    My TOC has just posted profits of £70mil for the year up to March 2021 (so during the first wave of COVID when trains were empty) It also received £325mil from the government to run the trains in the same period. It made a loss of £3.5mil the previous year (When things were normal and it was being run as a franchise).

    tommyhine
    Full Member

    Have they not got the model wrong for trains these days? I occasionally get the train one or two stops away because it’s convenient but the cost is ridiculous. e.g. to go from my local station in Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes central it costs £16.60. to drive my van park for 2 hours and drive home is roughly £10 a journey.

    Why would I bother with the trains. The perhaps need to flip the model and reduce costs to encourage more passengers to replace car journeys for shorter drives which in turn would increase revenues and allow for a better pay packet for staff (and allow investment in automated trains which must surely be the answer although I’m sure the unions would also try and block that aka progress).

    molgrips
    Full Member

    The perhaps need to flip the model and reduce costs to encourage more passengers to replace car journeys

    The main issue is that in general there isn’t the capacity to carry any more passengers when they want to travel i.e. at rush hour. So lowering fares wouldn’t help that problem.

    What we need is more capacity, but that needs major investment all round. We are trying, with HS2, but look at the resistance that’s faced. We need a completely new backbone as well as loads of new regional routes, and HS2 is part of that. But can we really trust a UK government to deliver that in a competent manner?

    tommyhine
    Full Member

    but surely lowering off peak pricing would result in more usage. and weekends.

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    but surely lowering off peak pricing would result in more usage. and weekends

    Well it would but track maintenance takes place in off-peak hours aka bus replacement service. It used to be that maintenance took place after hours but after Hatfield and contracting out repairs there has been a bit of mission creep such that most weekends the mainline services into/out of London don’t run on rails.

    muckytee
    Free Member

    How dare they go on strike and inconvenience me, don’t they know how important I am.

    Also I’ve not had a pay rise because I’m not in a union and never bothered to be join one but I now begrudge others getting a pay rise though

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Well thank goodness we’ve had a decade of wage stagnation accompanied by productivity increases, that’ll keep inflation at bay.

    What productivity increase? UK PLC is in a productivity slump and has been for some time.

    jambourgie
    Free Member

    I can’t believe that people still use trains, except like, Harry Potter enthusiasts. I saw on the news that it costs over £5k to travel between London and Brighton, and that if your train is late or cancelled you have to pay extra.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Sick and tired of the same old union bashing shite, if you’re happy with crap conditions then batter on but quit trying to pull everyone else down with you.

    Are we allowed to question this one particular union action though? Just asking.

    I’m far from anti-union, but this seems the worst possible time to expect a bumper pay rise when the the service you run is burning through cash at an almighty rate and a headcount reduction is the sensible strategy.

    There’s your mistake. It’s not an industry it’s a public service and profit should be nowhere in the financial planning. Without this service traffic and city centres would be inn an even worse condition than currently.

    Given train usage is at an all time low and we’ve just spent two years learning that we don’t all need to commute everyday for the world to keep turning, it might be a good time to ask whether pouring billions into the rail system is the best use of tax payers money – esp if not many people seem interested in using it. We’re basically subsidising the top 5% of earners so they can commute into the city at below real cost. You could spend the billions on housing the homeless for example.

    finephilly
    Free Member

    Well, compare the UK to Germany. They spend much much more ($billions per year) on their network. They have driver-less trains. They also have conductor-less trains and double-decker trains.
    We can’t have double-decker trains without demolishing hundreds of victorian railway bridges.
    We have basically 1 high speed line in the UK, compared to loads in France, Spain and Germany.
    We still have manual signalling!
    We have a fare system which requires a Phd to understand.
    The money has to come from somewhere if we want good rail services eg less road spending or more taxation.
    It’s a miracle anybody gets anywhere, frankly.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    What we need is more capacity, but that needs major investment all round. We are trying, with HS2, but look at the resistance that’s faced. We need a completely new backbone as well as loads of new regional routes, and HS2 is part of that. But can we really trust a UK government to deliver that in a competent manner?

    The entire rail industry at all levels has faced massive cost-cutting, privitisation and splitting into different bodies controlling different aspects.

    Similar to the NHS, it’s kind of like a very dilapidated house. It just needs constant work on it to stop it falling down, you’re forever plugging leaks here and cracks there but you’re doing this while people are still living in the house and there’s no money to do the job properly anyway. So i’ts constantly on a make-do-and-mend basis with a different builder in charge of each of the walls.

    What really needs to be done is to build an entirely new house (HS2 / NPR) that can take at least some of the people out of the leaky house and then concentrate on rebuilding that properly. But it’s going to require decades of very high funding to compensate for the decades of very low funding it’s had so far. And no Government cares enough to do that.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    footflaps
    Full Member

    What productivity increase? UK PLC is in a productivity slump and has been for some time.

    Not the case- other than dring covid of course.

    (usual disclaimers apply about how difficult it is to actually meaningfully measure productivity, meaning that we’ve instead gone for a measurement system that’s easier to execute and use, but which doesn’t actually really measure productivity. A useful enough metric, except when people confuse it with actual real world productivity)

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    Sick and tired of the same old union bashing shite, if you’re happy with crap conditions then batter on but quit trying to pull everyone else down with you.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    I can’t believe that people still use trains, except like, Harry Potter enthusiasts. I saw on the news that it costs over £5k to travel between London and Brighton, and that if your train is late or cancelled you have to pay extra.

    You would hope that one of the long term consequences of the pandemic is the belief that everyone must be in the office 9-5 seven days a week is killed off for good.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    You would hope that one of the long term consequences of the pandemic is the belief that everyone must be in the office 9-5 seven days a week is killed off for good.

    The leisure market has recovered far more than the commuter market (although that is still pretty strong, there’s some regional variations in how quickly that has rebounded). Weekend usage is at least as high as pre-Covid, if not higher.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    I don’t blame them for striking really.. It’s inconvenient for me as I rely on public transport.. I don’t want the expenses of running a car and I can always get a taxi or hire a car or van if I need to.

    The cost of living and brexit shit is gonna really hit the fan soon and I don’t blame the workers for trying to do something about it.

    finephilly
    Free Member

    Railways are a long game.
    You have to build the track – more costly and slower than building a road.
    You need operating companies and rolling stock – much harder to setup than just letting individuals loose with cars on a road.
    You have to price it accordingly and try to predict demand – almost impossible and easier to just tax private fuel usage.

    irc
    Full Member

    More public investment? In Scotland fares only cover a third of the cost of running the railway. Perhaps time for Beeching 2.

    https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/rail/investing-in-scotlands-railway/scotlands-railway-delivering-value-for-money/

    molgrips
    Full Member

    That’s British government in a nutshell isn’t it?

    Loads of Europe has good rail transport links, because they planned and executed the long game properly for the benefit of the country. We ripped everything up for a quick few quid and some dodgy back handers; then sold it off, buggered it up and under-funded it into the ground in the name of “private enterprise”. And everything ends up shit.

    nparker
    Full Member

    Disrupting commuters is one thing but disrupting kids who have worked hard for their exams and are dependent on trains to get to school and sit those exams, especially after all the disruption from the pandemic, is beyond belief.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    The problem with striking is that, like international trade sanctions, it doesn’t necessarily affect the people you want it to affect.

    But then, the problem with not striking is what else can you do?

    dissonance
    Full Member

    Its always a good plan to “think of the children”.
    Unfortunately by definition strikes are an inconvenience. Perhaps the government should have tried something other than their normal tactic of causing division?

    batfink
    Full Member

    That’s British government in a nutshell isn’t it?

    Loads of Europe has good rail transport links, because they planned and executed the long game properly for the benefit of the country. We ripped everything up for a quick few quid and some dodgy back handers; then sold it off, buggered it up and under-funded it into the ground in the name of “private enterprise”. And everything ends up shit.

    Came here to say this – 100% agree.

    Public transport in Australia is cheap, clean, fast and convenient. The costs of journeys in central Sydney including bus, tram, train and ferries would blow your minds….. a 3 hr train ride from central Sydney to Newcastle? 3.50 gbp. The public transport system here is state owned and run – makes a difference that operating costs are not being squeezed for the purposes of making a profit.

    garage-dweller
    Full Member

    Disrupting commuters is one thing but disrupting kids who have worked hard for their exams and are dependent on trains to get to school and sit those exams, especially after all the disruption from the pandemic, is beyond belief.

    I think it goes further than this. One of the defences of striking on public transport is to say it’s all right for everyone else in their entitled mega pay jobs with the option to change employers for better money. The term “commuter” has the connotation of / is often used like the only type of commuter is a stockbroker sitting in first class in stripey shirts and braces who can just hop in their Audi Q7 and cause congestion chaos on their way into the square mile (sorry for stereotype!).

    The reality is rail commuters are also healthcare workers, minimum wage retail and call centre workers and cleaners, site workers, emergency services staff, and all sorts of others. Those are the commuters who will really feel the pain and who we as a society or they as individuals cannot afford to be unable to get to work.

    Striking on the railways is not a way of achieving a positive outcome while only mildly inconveniencing the rich. Not everyone has the choice to join a union and find a better employer or to take the car for a day through circumstances or personal choice.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    Not everyone has the choice to join a union

    Er, I’ll just stop you there. Everyone has that choice, it’s enshrined in law.

    They can also pester their MP/MSP/MWP to try to get the striking matter resolved before it adversely impacts them. That costs nothing and is exactly the pressure the government needs to do it’s bit.

    People aren’t powerless, just apothetic.

    n0b0dy0ftheg0at
    Free Member

    In the last 24 hours Royal Mail have attempted to bypass the CWU stalled negotiations regarding a “no strings” pay rise deal from April, by executive action they plan to force a 2% pay increase from next month. Let’s just say it has not gone down well after a massive increase in online shopping since the pandemic started, how Covid safety was dealt with so poorly and then the CEO moans about sickness, how share dividends have been paid etc.

    Balloting for industrial action is incoming very soon, as it was before yesterday’s announcement.

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    Disrupting commuters is one thing but disrupting kids who have worked hard for their exams and are dependent on trains to get to school and sit those exams, especially after all the disruption from the pandemic, is beyond belief.

    Whilst pupils undoubtedly take all forums of transport to attend school including trains, especially those attending fee paying schools, I would be interested in knowing just how many actually rely on trains, and how many of those are completely unable to make alternative arrangements.

    Also irrespective of the planned industrial action how many pupils would miss their exams if there was overrun engineering works or any other incident which might close the line, as regularly happens.

    Relying on one sole method of attending a place of education has its obvious limitations, especially in the case of trains, and for that obvious reason it should be carefully assessed before decisions are made.

    I wouldn’t deny the possibility that the planned industrial action might affect a few individuals, but I can’t see it as a general across the board problem for large numbers of school pupils, which appears to be the suggestion.

    I suspect that the primary reason for throwing that suggestion into the argument is whip up a “won’t someone think of the children” emotive response.

    bigdaddy
    Full Member

    I heard on the radio this morning that the Japanese have done rail strikes but differently – they carried on working, but let all the passengers travel for free. Doesn’t inconvenience the public, but costs the companies and got their attention pretty quickly! Food for thought for the unions here…

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    Striking on the railways is not a way of achieving a positive outcome while only mildly inconveniencing the rich.

    Well having just the option of industrial action is certainly a very effective way of achieving positive results.

    I believe that the planned strike will be the first national rail strike this century. The reason rail workers are not among the lowest paid workers is precisely because taking industrial action remains an option – even if they do not take it.

    gordimhor
    Full Member

    Interesting graphic thanks @Northwind

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    Food for thought for the unions here…

    I think the trade unions would be taken to court very quickly if they tried that in the UK.

    muckytee
    Free Member

    I work in public transport and I do my upmost to make sure people get to their destinations daily, people travel for a variety of reasons that are intrinsic to their lives, so to disrupt that is not something I would take pleasure in nor would many of the people I work with, it’s the last thing we want to do.

    However it is the only thing you can do when you aren’t valued and have your own life infringed on, because without the people who work in public transport there would be no service at all. The impact of the disruption needs to levelled at the companies and the government for treating their workforce with such contempt that they are left with no choice but to stop work.

    Edit: There is this view that private companies always have people’s best interests at heart. They do not, I speak from experience that priority is money, if putting peoples health and well being at risk will save them money they will, it is often the power of law and threat of litigation that ensures that is the not case; if that wasn’t true then we wouldn’t need the DVSA and MoTs for commercial vehicles as an example.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    TBF the whole “strike but don’t inconvenience anyone” is just a different riff on the “protest but don’t do it where we can see you”, it’s a cunning bit of political operations that diminishes the effectiveness of striking. Strikes have to be inconvenient or they don’t work.

    The idea that it’s to inconvenience only the rich or the government is nonsense too. That doesn’t work, just isn’t practical.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    That’s British government in a nutshell isn’t it?

    Loads of Europe has good rail transport links, because they planned and executed the long game properly for the benefit of the country. We ripped everything up for a quick few quid and some dodgy back handers; then sold it off, buggered it up and under-funded it into the ground in the name of “private enterprise”. And everything ends up shit.

    And the incredible irony that so much of our “private” railways are actually run by other countries’ nationalised railways, and that the profits they take here help fund the services there. We’re told over and over that the private sector is more efficient, better, more pure but they’re also effectively saying “you can’t trust the UK government to run trains, we’re terrible, but you can totally trust the Italian government, they’re much better than us”

    dissonance
    Full Member

    Food for thought for the unions here…

    I have seen that one before (thought it was US though) but from what I recall it could allow the staff to be summarily dismissed and the union possibly sued into oblivion if they were on record supporting it.

    stumpyjon
    Full Member

    I get why they are striking, cost of living etc. it might get them a better deal short term but won’t help anyone else. The unions are acting in their members interests which is what they are supposed to do.

    We’ve got much bigger issues though and increasing pay across the board isn’t the answer. We need the government to reduce the cost of living fundamentally, it’s possible e.g. control credit much more tightly for mortgages, actually build more houses, sort out corporate tax issues, do their jobs and manage the private companies they’ve subbed everything out to effectively. Won’t happen though and especially not with this government.

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