[A-List] UK labour movement: railway struggles
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Mar 25 07:04:20 MST 2002
This appears to be a significant intervention by the "impartial" rail regulator in the ongoing pay disputes involving train drivers. A useful reminder of what Third Way-style regulation is really all about.
Union is accused of hidden agenda
The Herald, 25 March 2002
TOM Winsor, the rail regulator, has accused
elements within Aslef of using the ScotRail drivers'
dispute to achieve renationalisation.
He also claimed the hidden agenda includes a
return to national pay bargaining, and that the
elements would welcome ScotRail's financial
Mr Winsor has avoided public comment until now
on the pay dispute, on the grounds that it is outwith
However, he told The Herald: "Some elements
want to bust this company (ScotRail) so that they
can achieve renationalisation by stealth."
Mr Winsor called for "a spirit of realism on the part
of unions" during talks to reach a settlement after
four one-day strikes which have cost ScotRail £1m
in loss of revenue, and the threat of more
stoppages stretching to May 15.
The drivers have come under fire for the stoppage
on May 15 when football fans will be travelling to the
prestigious European Champions League Final to
be played at Hampden Park.
Kevin Lindsay, Aslef's Scottish district secretary,
has dismissed the claim that the membership was
being manipulated for political ends.
He said: "It is a nonsense to suggest ScotRail
drivers are being used as a ploy for
renationalisation or national pay bargaining.
"I am surprised at such comments."
However, Mr Winsor's view is supported by
ScotRail insiders who suspect that some in Aslef
hope the company will walk away from the
franchise - leaving the government to pick up the
The drivers want parity with companies in England
- in effect, a 22% "no-strings" rise which would take
their basic salary from £23,000 to £28,000.
The Rail Regulator urged a compromise, for the
sake of passengers and industry as a whole, and
warned: "The economy of the industry is fragile . . .
the train operating companies are not wealthy, with
money to burn."
ScotRail's negotiating team, including Jerry
Farquharson, operations manager for the
Strathclyde network, is due to return to the
negotiating table on Monday.
It is hoped that ScotRail, its parent group National
Express and Aslef will be able to hammer out a
possible solution to the pay row, which has been
going on for three months.
Nick Brown, acting managing director, said of
Friday's adjourned talks: "We've had a good set,
exploring and understanding a range of issues.
"Some work will go on over the weekend in
preparation for Monday."
Mr Lindsay said: "The talks are progressing and I
am more positive of an amicable settlement than at
the start of negotiations."
On Wednesday, Aslef raised hopes of a possible
end to the dispute, after suspending two strikes
planned for next week.
Industrial unrest continues, however, with Aslef
calling on Friday for three more strikes at First
North Western over dismissals and downgradings
in a disciplinary dispute.
Aslef said that members from First North Western
had voted by more than 10 to one in favour of three
new walkouts in a long-running dispute between
the union and bosses at the firm over the
downgrading and dismissals of a number of its
The 24-hour strikes will be held on three separate
days in the week following the Easter bank holiday,
a spokesman said.
The union accuses First North Western - which
runs services across Cheshire, Lancashire and
Cumbria - of going too far and of abusing
procedures in its disciplinary actions.
Full article at:
Mercuria Business School
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
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