NSSN 167: 20th anniversary of rail privatisation

On 5 November 1993 John Major’s Tories passed the Railways Act to privatise British Rail, opening an era of public transport chaos and fragmentation in Britain.

Protest at Euston station on 20th anniversary of rail privatisation
Protest at Euston station on 20th anniversary of rail privatisation

Rail privatisation is a grotesque ‘corporate welfare’ binge for a herd of gruesome Fat Cats, some well-known like Richard Branson, others less so like the shadowy hedge funds and banks who trouser ‘rolling stock leasing charges’ for trains already bought and paid for by public investment.

This month, on the 20th anniversary, RMT demands an end to rail privatisation – legalised robbery paid for by tax scams and extortionate rail fares.

In 2012-13 alone, private train operators and rolling stock companies paid out dividends of OVER £359 MILLION.

In 18 years since the sell-off of train services in 1995, OVER £3.5 BILLION in shareholder dividends has been paid out by private train operators alone.

UK taxpayers subsidise this racket with huge sums in corporate welfare. Track access charges – charges private train operators pay to Network Rail to use rail infrastructure – halved from £3.19 billion in 1994 to £1.59 billion in 2012 to be replaced by public sector subsidies of £1.6 BILLION PER YEAR.

Meanwhile, foreign state-owned operators now control 65% of Britain’s train operators, using extortionate fares and huge taxpayer subsidies in the UK to underwrite services in France, Germany and Netherlands.

The EU, which designed Britain’s rail privatisation disaster, is now flogging rail services to privateers across the EU. In November 2012, an EU directive established a “single European railway area” in “a competitive market” by compulsory competitive tendering of rail services. A ‘4th’ EU rail liberalisation package next year will make ‘franchising’ of rail passenger services compulsory across all EU member states.

But this catalogue of corporate corruption and neoliberal dogma has helped to create RMT’s fighting trade union response to rail privatisation.

As today’s illegitimate coalition government, privatises the Probation Service and Royal Mail, RMT is a reminder to all trade unionists and public service users that as long as the working class maintains independent, class combative organisation, we will always have the ability to fight back against job and service cuts and to rebuild a publicly-owned alternative to the privatisation rip-off.

Alex Gordon,

RMT President (2010-2012)




Want to get more involved in the NSSN? Come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]

November 23 Yorkshire NSSN conference – 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE

November 30 Midlands NSSN conference – 12pm-4pm, Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham Flyer can be downloaded here

January 18 2014 Southern NSSN conference (hosted by UNITE Bracknell) ‘Building the Fightback against Austerity’ – 2pm to 5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell

8th Annual NSSN Conference will be on Saturday 5th July 2014 in London.


Union News


National strike action November 5-6 against privatisation of Probation Service  see strike reports on NAPO website

NAPO General Secretary Ian Lawrence:  “Standing up for our communities and for yourself” (Nov 4) – Tomorrow sees the launch of our industrial action campaign against this Governments TR plans. Our Probation members across England and Wales are being asked for only the 4th time ever to take strike action. This comes after every effort by your Union to persuade Ministers that their plans to deal with re-offending rates are fundamentally flawed and operationally dangerous, and after pleading with the same Ministers to retain what currently works within Probation, and at least trial their scheme in a structured and measurable way read more from Ian’s blog

See union messages of support on Napo website

NSSN supporters join NAPO members at the Probation Service head office.
NSSN supporters join NAPO members at the Probation Service head office.


Successful UCU, Unison & Unite higher education strike on October 31st

UCU strike report

UCU twitter feed from strike day

Unison strike report



Firefighters will strike again on 13 November and hold new ballot for further forms of industrial action (Nov 5) – Firefighters today announced that a fourth strike on pensions will take place between 10am and 2pm on Wednesday 13 November in England and Wales. This follows the decision of the government in Westminster to worsen proposals on firefighter pensions. In addition the Fire Brigades Union announced the start of a further ballot for other forms of industrial action, which will close on Wednesday 4 December read more

latest FBU update

Next step forward for pensions negotiations is `simple and achievable’ say firefighters after two-hour strike (Nov 4) – Firefighters were on strike for a third time this morning during a two-hour walkout across England and Wales. Fire Brigades Union general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “The next step forward for pension negotiations is simple and achievable. “If the government is serious about firefighters being protected from being sacked without access to their pensions as it claims to be, why won’t it draft the pension regulations accordingly? read more

Firefighters display unity and determination during strike on pensions (Nov 2) – The Fire Brigades Union has praised firefighters for their unity and determination during last night’s strike. Firefighters across England and Wales walked out on strike between 6.30pm and 11.00pm in the dispute about pensions read more



Over half universities don’t pay living wage, says report (4 Nov) – Pay gap between bosses and lowest paid workers of 15:1 is one of biggest in public sector. More than half of UK universities pay some of their staff less than the living wage and over a quarter have more than 100 staff paid less than the living wage, according to a new report released today by the National Union of Students



Reps briefing gives latest position on talks (5th Nov) – CWU representatives in Royal Mail packed out the Queen Elizabeth conference centre in London on Monday (November 4) – the day that postal workers were due to take strike action nationally – for a briefing updating them on the latest status of national talks read more

Post Office strike called off  (1st Nov) – A strike by Post Office staff planned for Monday, November 4, has been called off after a letter from CEO Paula Vennells committed the Post Office to resolve the long-running dispute over pay and job security with a series of intensive talks commencing next week read more from CWU website

joint statement Oct 31



PCS slams increase in benefit sanctions (6 Nov) – PCS reacted today to the publication by the DWP of the data on benefit sanctions.  PCS represents 80,000 staff that work for the DWP and therefore see this issue first hand every day.  PCS believes that the report shows the true nature of the benefit sanctions regime now being operated by the DWP, one of increasing penalising job seekers and leading directly to an increase of people being forced to use food banks and loan sharks read more

10 Weeks to save our Enquiry Centres (5 Nov) – Help build political pressure on HMRC to abandon flawed NES pilot. Early Day motion 612 has been laid down in Parliament calling on the government to reconsider its plans to close 281 Enquiry Centres early next year. The decision on the future of our face to face network has been extended to 31 December. During our week of action in September, over 400 PCS reps and members delivered visible protests and activities across the UK which illustrated the strength of opposition to these closures. A number of MPs and councillors also offered their support and every member of the public made aware of HMRCs plans have pledged unquestioning support to our Keep Tax Advice Local campaign. We now have less than 10 weeks to save the Enquiry Centres read more

IT staff to strike on Bonfire Night (4 Nov) – Our members who work for multinational Atos delivering privatised government contracts are striking this week in a row over pay. About 2,000 staff who administer the DWP medical examinations, work in National Savings, the Equitable Life compensation scheme and who deliver IT support for customers such as the BBC will be involved in the action tomorrow (5 November) read more

Shared service strike suspended (31 Oct) – A strike by our members across DWP and Defra shared services has been suspended while we consult members over the outcome of talks. The campaign to protect jobs and prevent offshoring in shared services continues read more



Unite to fight for a future for shipbuilding (6 Nov) – Unite, the country’s largest union, will fight to retain as many of the 1,775 jobs under threat, following today’s announcement (Wednesday 6 November) about the future of the shipyards at Portsmouth, and Govan and Scotstoun on the Clyde read more

Unite warns of strike action over council cuts (5 Nov) – Unite warns that Oxfordshire county council faces strike action by Early Intervention Service (EIS) staff overs its plans to axe 700 jobs and slash services for Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable children, young people and families. Unite’s members working in Oxfordshire CC’s EIS will begin a consultative ballot for industrial action following the council’s shock announcement to shut four out of the county’s seven early intervention hubs, six satellite hubs and 37 children centres, two years after they were ushered in to improve targeted care to Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable people read more

Doncaster demo to highlight the erosion of workers’ rights (5 Nov) – A demonstration to highlight how bosses are exploiting workers when they are transferred to another employer will take place in Doncaster on Saturday 16 November. The South Yorkshire town has been chosen because it was the centre of a bitter dispute last winter when 183 Unite drivers were transferred from Tesco to Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) under The Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations read more

Unite calls for fair pay for local government workers (5 Nov) – GMB, UNISON and Unite – the unions representing 1.6 million local government workers ­ formally submit their pay claim to employers today (Tuesday 5 November). The claim steps up their campaign to put an end to poverty wages amongst the lowest paid group of workers in the public sector. The unions seek a £1 an hour minimum increase to bring the bottom rate of pay in local government to the level of the Living Wage. Half a million local government workers earn less than the current Living Wage and a million earn less than the Coalition’s ‘low pay’ threshold of £21,000 a year. The new Living Wage of £7.65 and £8.80 in London was announced yesterday (Monday) read more

Statement by Unite the union on the report today by the Sunday Times (3 Nov) – Today’s Sunday Times carries an extensive attack on Unite the union, apparently based on emails given to the newspaper by Ineos or its agents read rest of Unite statement

Employers treat construction workers with disrespect with derisory pay offer (31 Oct) – Construction unions Ucatt, Unite and GMB have described a pay offer as derisory and have accused employers of treating workers with disrespect and derision. The employers made their derisory offer in pay talks on Tuesday 29 October for the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) agreement. Around 500,000 workers are covered by some aspect of the CIJC agreement read more

Warrington bus workers striking against pay freeze (Oct 30) – Unite the Union members at Network Warrington bus company are striking against a pay freeze. They have announced a further three days of strike action from November 13-15 after rejecting the ‘insulting’ offers of management. Picket lines will be at the Network Warrington depot, Wilderspool Causeway. Suspended anti-cuts Labour councillor and Unite member Kevin Bennett is speaking up for the workers



First Great Western Mitie cleaners strike for third time (5 Nov) – First Great Western Mitie cleaners strike for third time over Living Wage and zero hours contracts as company bosses make a fortune. Members of rail union RMT working for sub-contractors Mitie on First Great Western will strike again in two phases from Thursday morning in a fight for a Living Wage and workplace justice as anger grows at news that the cheapskate companies top boss , presiding over the culture of low pay and zero hours contracts , has raked in £1.37 million with shareholder dividends soaring to over £20 million. As the union ratchets up what is seen as a set-piece LIving Wage battle with implications for hundreds of thousands of British cleaners on poverty pay and zero hours contracts, FGW Mitie Paddington and Old Oak members have been instructed not to book on for any shifts between:-

• 06:00 hours on Friday 8th November 2013 and 05:59 hours on Monday 11th November 2013.

All other members on the FGW franchise will strike from;

*   06:00 hours on Thursday 7th November 2013 and 05:59 hours on Saturday 9th November 2013 read more

First TPE: Drivers – Industrial Action Suspended (Nov 4) – read RMT statement

20 Years of Rail Privatisation RMT Exposes the Great Rip Off (4 Nov) – With November 5th marking the twentieth anniversary of the passing of the Railways Act, which condemned lifeline transport services in Britain to a generation of fragmentation and exploitation, rail union RMT has launched a fresh drive to end the privatised rip off which has left passengers paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on overcrowded, unreliable services read more

RMT to ballot LU fleet over industrial relations breakdown (1 Nov) – Tube union RMT said today that due to a complete breakdown in industrial relations for fleet grades on London Underground the union’s executive has decided to conduct a ballot of all LU fleet members for strike action and industrial action short of a strike. The industrial relations breakdown has been caused by the fleet organisation’s management continuing a relentless attack on RMT members through a drive to bulldoze through changes to work practices and conditions of service that are clearly dangerous read more

RMT warns of impact of £1.7 billion rail cuts (31 Oct) – RMT warns that £1.7 billion rail cuts will hammer jobs, maintenance and rail safety. Rail union RMT warned this morning that £1.7 billion of cuts to Network Rail budgets from 2014, announced by the Office of Rail Regulation this morning and dressed up as “efficiency savings” , would spark off further savage cuts to jobs and maintenance – compromising safety and reliability and making a nonsense of ORR’s core objectives read more



Shipbuilding Job Losses Devastating (Nov 6) – Huge Job Losses Mean This A Devastating Day For UK Shipbuilding Says GMB. There is genuine concerns about the future of the industry as the skills vital to the nation’s defence, if lost, will never be replaced read more

4 Days Strikes at VIP Polymers (Nov 4) – GMB Announce Further Four 24 Hour Strikes In Long Running Pay Dispute at VIP Polymers Huntingdon. As the dispute goes into its seventh month members remain determined not to be bullied into having cuts imposed on them by VIP Polymers says GMB read more

8th Nov Demo At Tottenham College (Nov 4) – GMB Members Demo In Tottenham On Friday 8th Nov To Oppose 23% Cut In Cleaners’ Pay At Haringey, Enfield And North East London College read more

94% Yes Vote At Kent NHS Transport (Nov 4) – GMB Members At NSL Care Services On Kent NHS Patient Transport Vote For Action In Dispute Over Cuts To Conditions And Rota Changes. Staff will not be bullied into accepting cuts to their terms and conditions that they have fought hard for and changes which will leave very sick patients stranded says GMB read more

November 6th Sheffield School Strike (Oct 31) – GMB Members At Sheffield Park Academy To Strike On Wednesday For £7.45 Per Hour Living Wage. The current hourly rate of pay for cleaners at Park Academy is £6.32 or just 1p per hour above the national minimum wage says GMB read more



“Strike, Strike, give us a fair deal” demand Glasgow Unison members (Oct 31) – 1000 Pupil Support Assistants (PSA’s) organised in Unison took strike action in Glasgow on 31st October. This is in response to the Labour council imposing changes to their already demanding job roles by making them take up duties such as medical support. See here for a report on the background to the strike action read more on SP Scotland website



Gove’s letter spells it out – no budget, no pay rise (Nov 6) – The latest letter sent by Michael Gove to the School Teachers Review Body on 24 October (just a day before the NUT Executive voted to postpone national strike action), spells out bluntly what Gove wants from his performance-pay legislation: “Your recommendations have enabled schools to … ensure that their overall pay bill is affordable within their budget, rather than being tied to year-on-year salary increases”. In other words, if schools haven’t got sufficient budget for pay progression and/or pay awards, then they won’t have to pay them – even if teachers have supposedly all met their ‘targets’ ! Of course, to justify these budget-driven decisions, some colleagues will have to be deemed to have ‘failed’ to make the grade more from Martin Powell Davies (NUT NEC) blog



Other news

Labour Research Department Pay Survey http://www.lrd.org.uk/index.php?pagid=102

Great result: disabled people celebrate victory over government to save the Independent Living Fund read more on False Economy


Yorkshire Ambulance cuts


The campaign in Yorkshire Ambulance Service continues and at the moment is concentrating on a number of key areas

1 Postcards aimed at Chief Executive

2 Updating branch details in preparation for a ballot for industrial action on both national and regional issues

3 Gathering of evidence on H&S in preparation for a meeting with the trust or involving HSE

4 Promoting sympathisers joining trust so they are vulnerable from the inside (Please could anyone from Yorkshire do this as it would give us a massive advantage when it comes to leverage pressure) http://www.yas.nhs.uk/foundationtrust/b_Why_become_A_Member.html

5 Organising for a lobby of Parliament- we have written to all Yorkshire MPs explaining our position and a lobby has been arranged for Wednesday 20th November immediately following PM Questions.

A room has been booked and NEYH region are providing transport. Whilst it is important we get members to this event we would still appreciate support from members of the public so if you or anyone you know wish to attend please let me have contact details. I have attached a flyer for publicity purposes.

Also if anyone is attending without requiring transport from Yorkshire please let me know of your intention so we have an idea of numbers.

I will be creating some model emails to send to the Chief Executive in the near future but please continue to raise our campaign for Patient Safety and Re-recognition at your trades councils and with local politicians.

We are planning a leafleting session in conjunction with the next Trust board meeting on Tuesday 26th November in Bridlington. The plan is 2 or 3 hours leafleting so that they realise wherever they go we will follow.

Thank you for your support

In Solidarity

Steve Miller Unite EC


Blacklisting & Victimisation

‘Piss take’ compensation proposals cause walk out (6 Nov) – The first talks to take place between blacklisted workers and representatives of the blacklist compensation scheme have ended in acrimony as the delegation from the Blacklist Support Group walked out of the meeting in disgust at what they described as “piss take” proposals read more on BSG blog

BLACKLIST SUPPORT GROUP ACTION NOTICE: Targeting the blacklisting Big Cheese at the Cheesegrater, London, 20 November (4 Nov) – The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is targeting Laing O’Rourke at the Cheesegrater construction project as part of the TUC Day of Action on blacklisting.

Assemble 7am – Wednesday 20th November, Laing O’Rourke, Cheesegrater, Leadenhall Street, City of London (Nearest tube: Liverpool Street) read more on BSG blog

Own Up! Pay Up! Clean Up! TUC day of action on blacklisting on 20 Nov – No more Blacklisting. Make the culprits Own Up! Pay Up! Clean Up! Read more on Unite website

Reel News Statement on BBC copyright abuse – (from a Spark) “Not sure if you are aware of this situation that has come about off the back of the Ineos Grangemouth dispute. As we know, over the last few weeks Unite has come under attack over the leverage tactics that have been so successful in recent disputes from the Tories and their right wing press and media mouthpieces. Reel News have been excellent in covering many disputes, including the BESNA and Crossrail disputes and cover many other trade union movement stories that the mainstream media don’t want the UK public to see or hear. I would hope that Unite would support Reel News in this battle with the BBC after all the fantastic films that they have made covering various disputes.”

Please read the attached link which is Reel News’ statement and some of their footage from the BESNA dispute:



International (also see Labourstart)

New Zealand: McDonald’s, stop rights abuse: reinstate Sean Bailey! (Oct 30) – McDonald’s New Zealand has sacked union delegate Sean Bailey for helping to expose the company’s repeated failures to provide meal breaks for many staff working more than a four-hour shift as required by law, and for giving critical testimony on this issue to a parliamentary committee more from IUF website

Ireland: 100 years since the great Dublin Lockout (4 Nov) – Joe Higgins speaks in parliament on legacy of 1913 see video of speech


Diary (see & use false economy)


16 Moving Forward: Identifying and resisting the enemies of democracy in 2014. Conference organised by Searchlight Book places here

20 TUC Day of Action against Blacklisting: As part of the Day of Action there will be a Lobby of Parliament to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry. Assemble on Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament at 13:00. read more

23 Yorkshire NSSN conference – 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE

30 Midlands NSSN conference: 12noon-4pm Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham



January 2014

18 Southern NSSN conference (hosted by UNITE Bracknell) ‘Building the Fightback against Austerity’ – 2pm to 5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell