I know it’s Friday the 13th today, but I wasn’t expecting to be frightened by reading Transport for London’s (TfL) investment plans. Or lack of investment, as it appears TfL are planning to cut corners on track maintenance and repairs. It’s eye-wateringly short sighted to rob Peter to pay Paul on our railways or Tube. I thought I’d said goodbye to this kind of playing politics with passenger safety when Boris left office. However, I was pleased to see that Sadiq Khan has called a Security Summit after recent evacuations on our Tube. Clearly we need to use this opportunity to raise wider issues.
Safety is always our union's number one priority. I was reminded of its importance by this petition I received in my inbox this week by the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Our reps on the ground at Virgin Trains East Coast and Virgin Trains West Coast have been busy this week consulting members on pay negotiations. I know these are two separate companies with different parent companies, but they would both be unwise to underestimate our members. If they think they can treat them like second class citizens, playing them off against drivers in the negotiations, they better think again. I will say this slowly in case any of the employers are reading – we will not accept a two tier deal on pay, we will not sacrifice hard-won terms and conditions like sick leave, for better pay and we will not be bullied by employers. Our members have seen the proposals and rejected them. We’re now back at the negotiating table and we hope to get down to some sensible discussions on pay. After all the trains don’t run on drivers alone.
It was the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) annual conference this week. I didn’t expect much from them, but I was disappointed that instead of talking about their policies they filled the space with insults. When profit reports for ScotRail show that the Dutch state run company is making a loss, it felt like SNP’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf was trying to misdirect attention. As you know, I think we should Ditch the Dutch and have a publicly owned railway in Scotland. As I said to the press after Humza's speech, there’s no need to set up a ‘public bidder’, just get rid of the whole rotten process and take control of the railways before we waste any more tax-payer money.
In Ireland I’m extremely proud of our members at Iarnród Éireann who are sick and tired of not getting a pay rise – for the best part of a decade – and being told now that they have to barter off their terms and conditions to get a deal. We are balloting our members in Iarnród Éireann across the country. If you work in Iarnród Éireann you've got til October 20th to have your say. This isn’t about just pay, it’s about the right for workers to negotiate terms and conditions going forward. I urge you to give us the strongest vote for the strongest voice in talks to get this sorted.
I can't not mention the car crash negotiations continuing by the Tories around Brexit. The Irish border is a particular area which Davies and his team just can’t get to grips with, but as I wrote this week, we’re deeply concerned about the consequences of ignoring Irish history – which has come so far in the last two decades.