Action For Rail Conference Manchester

About 60 union reps, mainly from the rail unions, but also from the NHS, civil service and local government, came to the Manchester ‘Action For Rail’ conference to organise resistance to the McNulty report into the future of the railways. They were joined by trades council activist and public transport campaigners.

We heard from Martin Hedges, a young TSSA rep who has been disgracefully victimised by Richard Branson’s Virgin Rail company. Martin had only been a rep for about a year when he was called into an office and dismissed on the grounds that he “questioned management decisions”. Martin received loud support for his refusal to accept these bully-boy tactics.

Next Bob Crow outlined the vision behind McNulty – of stations with no staff, just concrete platforms, trains with no conductors or catering staff, and driverless trains wherever possible. It would be a nightmare for passengers and up to one fifth of railway jobs would go – all to enrich the state-dependent rip off merchants who call themselves rail companies.

A speaker from the drivers union explained in detail the devastating effect McNulty will have, and the necessity for unity between the trade unions and travelling public.

Chris Baugh from PCS rounded the morning off with a rousing call for socialist measures to end the crazy market being imposed on the railways and for a planned, publicly owned railway to avert the environmental catastrophe caused by the constant expansion of road haulage and private car ownership. The conference then broke into workshops to make detailed plans for campaigning. (Andy Ford, Warrington Trades Council 17th July 2012)