That Strike

In 1994 I voted to strike. BR had been ‘privatised’ that is, not really properly privatised, but Railtrack was ostensibly a private company now and as a consequence, we were facing a new raft of terms and conditions. Given the Spanish practices that existed during the dark days of BR, this was hardly a surprise. However, there was a hidden clause that really bothered me. They could if they wished, impose 12 hour rosters. Some people like the 12 hour roster and I understand why. Shorter working weeks and the possibility of more contiguous time off if you plan right. Indeed, most of those on such a roster like them. I, however, do not and never have. So the thought of having this system imposed, knowing full well how tiring I find 12 hour days, I voted to strike.

In the end, nothing really changed and there was no real plan to impose the dreaded 12 hour roster without proper consultation, so the whole farrago was a waste of time. In the intervening years, the RMT did its damndest to get the signallers out on strike for all sorts of spurious reasons. After all, getting the drivers out is disruptive, but if you want to completely fuck the system, you need the signallers out. However, the signallers, having learned from 1994, resisted. Until now.

I’m hearing the usual excuses – muh, wages, muh, safety… None of this stacks up to the slightest scrutiny. Rail work – with the exception of engineering roles – is semi-skilled and bloody well paid semi-skilled at that. Anyone saying otherwise is lying. It is also, for the most part, in good conditions and there’s plenty of paid holiday and enough overtime to top it up if you want to. If you can get it, it’s a good craic and there is no shortage of applicants. Let’s be clear here, rail work is good employment and well paid for doing it and I had a satisfying career doing it with no regrets. Compare and contrast with the minimum wage earner stacking shelves in a local supermarket who is being expected to pick up the tab for these public sector employees to get their highly inflated pay rises. That’s right, the poorest will end up paying, just as they always do.

I do not support this strike. Indeed, I am appalled that anyone voted for it. I am equally appalled that these selfish, entitled, well paid employees are expecting the poorest in society to pay for their largess. We are facing a period of economic decline. This is not the time for the well paid to leech off the low paid and I utterly deplore those who are now using bully tactics to try to get this outcome. The government and the employers need to dig in and resist. This strike must not be allowed to succeed under any circumstances. The same applies to the teachers and barristers – fucking barristers, for flying fuck’s sake. These parasites earn more in a year than many of us earn in a lifetime. Fuck them. Fuck them to hell and back.


  1. I gave up using rail travel when I quit commuting into London. If it’s a short distance I grab the bus, if it’s a long distance I fly. The cost of travelling between UK cities is simply exorbitant.

    Post-COVID and post-Zoom, I can only see the railways in decline, simply because they are too expensive for the average member of the public and even the commuter zones around major cities they are a waste of time and money.

    Far better to get a job that allows you to work from home and take the win on the hours and commuting costs.

  2. It would be one thing if the trains were like Japan’s. Run to the minute, excellent service, massive apologies if even a minute late.

    Here you lucky if it runs at all sometimes, they’re always late and staff are surly, unhelpful and borderline incompetent.
    And they want paying more? Lol.
    Fuck em

    I don’t use trains, or any public transport. It’s ridiculous how much it costs

  3. Don’t forget the free/cheap “priv” travel on not only the UK’s but also most of the world’s railways which, if you stay in rail employment long enough, will continue into your retirement too.
    (I didn’t strike in 1994 – I took voluntary redundancy instead and found a better job.)

    • Actually, the free travel didn’t extend to Railtrack staff post privatisation. I have it, but never use it. The tickets expire every year without one box being used.

  4. Any union which calls a strike is inept at best. Almost any job can be affected legally with a bit of thought: that’s what’s in short supply here. Striking is simply “Look at MEEEE!”

  5. The workers going on strike can’t be doing too badly as far as money is concerned. I mean, every day they go on strike, they lose a day’s pay, right? If they are on strike three days in a week, that’s half their weekly pay they’re losing.

    As I said, they can’t be too badly off if they can afford to lose half their weekly pay. What about people on the minimum wage who would find it impossible to lose half their weekly pay? You’re absolutely right about this matter.

    • They know this, that’s why it’s alternate days. Trains will be in wrong place etc so public suffer even as workers paid, Maximum disruption for public and minimum pain for them

  6. Rail revenues and passenger numbers half of pre-Covid levels

    The Office of Rail and Road said the industry generated £5.9 billion from ticket sales in 2021 and 2022 – 54% of the £11 billion raised two years ago

    We can sack ~50% of train drivers then. Try this: those who accept a 20% Pay Cut keep their jobs


    The mad militant gravy train: Services cancelled because staff won’t work when it’s sunny, breaks that restart if a boss says ‘hello’. As they boast of bringing the network to a halt

     Guy Adams reveals how union rules are stuck in the steam age

    Automated Track Inspections keeps coming up on msm

    Union guy says they did, eventually, accept it. However, fails to mention manual still continued and workers still killed. Same with “accepting” apps etc

    Meanwhile other countries now using drones

    GB News covering well

    Sack them all and tell them they can re-apply

    Better still, sack them and enable full automation. It’s been in place on Underground sinse 1960s Victoria line

      • Hmm. Walking time was abolished by Railtrack in 1994, so how that has crept in is a mystery. I’m inclined to call bullshit unless NWR allowed it to creep back in when they took maintenance back in house. If the TOCs are still allowing it, more fool them.

        I’ve not once come across anyone restarting a break because a manager engaged with people, so I’m calling bullshit on that one.

        People are sent out in small gangs for minor jobs. They are on shift together, using the same van, so the group going out makes sense. Just to send one leaving the others stranded is insane. And that’s apart from the reluctance of Network Rail to have lone workers out on the infrastructure especially at night. So bullshit again.

        I have never, ever come across anyone refusing to travel in the same vehicle as someone else, so I’m calling bullshit on that one as well.

        There’s plenty we can criticise regarding Spanish practices, but I simply do not believe this article. I’ll be generous and suggest that the Mail has uncovered some dodgy local agreements here.

        I’d also point out that they are conflating track inspection and rail worker fatalities. While resistance to automated inspection is absurd, it’s not patrolman who have been killed, its been members of track gangs working open lines and broke the rules. Two different things.

        Can I also take a moment to point out that all the vitriol aimed at drivers is misplaced. They are in ASLEF, not the RMT, so aren’t on strike at the moment.

  7. Re the railways you are confirming what many suspect.

    Besides, striking is an intrinsically stupid thing. Thinking of all the jobs I’ve ever had, there wasn’t one I could not have brought to a grinding halt simply by working to rule. Actually obeying the asinine rules and practices that plague most occupations. By not being flexible and helpful. By never doing one second more than I was contracted for.

    Commuting – particularly into London – has to be one of the most soul destroying things imaginable. Whatever you think of working from home, there’s no doubt it has reduced commuting and it’s effects are likely permanent.

  8. I believe that Mr. Longrider gets a little tired of explaining why full automation of our rail network is impossible. It would be satisfying to see this belligerent lot overtaken by technology as happened to the print union. The best story that I have heard was that of the lift operators who all had jobs due to the fact that people just didn’t trust the automatic ones. When the lift operators went on strike they left people with a stark choice between the automatic elevators or twenty flights of stairs. Once people got used to the automated lifts there was no longer a need for lift operators. Their demise was probably inevitable anyway but the strikes sped the process up.

    • full automation of our entire rail network may be impossible. But full automation of most is

      As I ssid, 1960s Victoria line is automated as are subsequent. New crossrail Elisabeth line is automated.

      Most drivers are passengers paid to sit in train, they need sacked

      • If you travel from the Midlands to London via Oxford, you will go through three signalling systems. None of which would support driverless trains. Especially the old manual boxes with their levers, rods and cables.

        The new electronic system has automatic route settting which is fine providing the service is working normally. When things go wrong, signallers really start to earn their money.

        The plans to resignal the great Western main line is late and over budget. Bristol panel signal box was due to be decommissioned in 2015. Everything west of Bristol is still there. The same goes for electrification.

        I could wax lyrical about procurement in the rail industry, but I’d write a novel… even setting that aside, you want to spend billions in order to do away with drivers who are a fraction of the cost of running a railway. The real cost is the infrastructure itself. The wages for train crew and signallers is a drop in the ocean. So, full automation is pie in the sky thinking. Not going to happen. Not in our lifetime.

        If you think that most drivers are passengers in automated trains, you clearly haven’t sat next to one in a driving cab. I have. They are not just sitting there. How do you think that trains respond to the signalling system and speed limits? Not to mention unplanned hazards that occur.

      • The reason for Midlands to London via Oxford etc:

        What’s the point of upgrading if no return on investment as unions will not agree to change or sackings

        We see that on underground: lines automated, no change in staff

        Gov’t, NWR and TOCs should be strong and tell them agree or no job

        Unexpected events etc? One train on one track vs cars, vans, HGVs, cyclists, pedestrians…

        Yet self-driving vehicles here now, not perfect yet

        Trains still in 1800s

        Trains can be automated easily, but no point when workers intransigent and bosses weak and too many refuse to accept it’s possible

        • Don’t compare the underground with the mainline. The underground is a fairly small infrastructure that is an enclosed system, so more economically viable for automation. The mainline would cost billions to upgrade. I didn’t say it wasn’t technologically feasible, I was saying it wasn’t economically viable, which it isn’t. And that’s got nothing to do with union intransigence as upgrades and job losses have already taken place during the recent resignalling. On The GW mainline, we lost signalboxes at Slough, Reading and Swindon with three of the four panels at Bristol gone along with their respective jobs. Some took redeployment in the new signalling centre, but they are a fraction of the compliment that existed in the old panel boxes. Most of the people I worked with took redundancy or early retirement, so that simply is not an issue. As I said, you are proposing spending billions to do away with a relatively minimal cost. That’s putting ideology ahead of pragmatism. The costs in railways comes from the infrastructure. That investment is why the small private companies amalgamated and it was eventually nationalised. There’s no real return on investment, which is why privatisation wasn’t really privatisation.

          As for hazards, we get plenty. Level crossing abuse, livestock on the line, suicides, debris, faults and failures with track, points and signalling. No, not as much as the roads, but still there and drivers need to deal with them. It takes several months of intensive training to achieve competence. If they get it wrong, people die. They are not just passengers.

  9. NHS Doctors, Nurses, Diversity managers, Radiographers, Hospital managers, buildings maintenance staff, Consultants, Surgeons, Equality managers, Administrative staff. Firemen/women. Police Constables, Chief Constables, Detectives, Inspectors, Community support officers. Politicians, Lords, support staff, special advisers, Whitehall civil servants, Town hall staff, Council workers, Council Chief Executives. There are of course many, many more sucking at the public teats.

    All paid upwards of £40,000 p/a. Final salary pensions and many perks of the employment.

    All paid from the public purse, contributed to solely by the Private sector.

    All of the above pay no, NO, income tax, no national insurance, nor contribute to their own pensions.

    Is it just me? Can only I see it? You would have to be an utter, utter CUNT to work in the private sector any longer. Let’s just get ourselves on benefits; after all Doris says we can have mortgages, loans, credit cards, all the good things in life that we, in our fucking stupidity, thought we had to work for, save for. But no, we were wrong all along.

    Anyone who believes that working for yourself, your family, for the prospect of an easier, safer future in old age is a fucking idiot.
    No forget that, you’re just a Cunt.

    • I know what you mean. Taxes from private sector pay those in the public sector and their deductions are just recycled. Some of them are useful though such as doctors, nurses and council bin men.

  10. @ inmate,
    No idea about the majority of those mentioned, but Police officers, who are not allowed to take strike action, are required to pay twelve and a half percent (up from eleven and a half percent) of their salary towards their pension and, thanks to Dim David Cameron and the bitch Theresa May, have to pay that for longer to receive a lower percentage of their salary. While paying this, they are subject to the political diktats whether they receive a pay rise at all (remember, they can’t go on strike in protest, and respective governments know this). Just saying.

    • Penseivat sir, as Dr Evil says, the public sector, be they police or whoever, only recycle private sector taxes. To pay their wages, believe they are paying tax, national insurance or pension contributions.Tax cannot be paid with tax, Ive asked the taxman.

  11. In my opinion, these strikes have little to do with pay. I’ve heard the RMT is demanding an 11% pay rise, and teachers are demanding 12%.Another group is demanding 7%. Those figures are ridiculous, and the unions know damn well that the Government will never agree to fund such outrageous claims. Personally, and considering that the leader of the RMT is a paid up member of the Communist party, and has made noises about “class war”, I’m of the belief that the main aim of these strikes is to bring down the government. I’m also of the belief that Mick Lynch and his ilk are guilty of sedition and should be arrested and charged with such. However, given that the government, and Johnson in particular, has proven itself to be both spineless and inept, and that the police have chosen to give up any notion of being politically neutral, I doubt that will happen. I just hope that, having seen so many Labour MP’s, including front benchers, ignore Beer Korma’s order to stay off the picket lines, voters will remember it and punish them at the ballot box. Voting for an independent might help bring them back into touch.

    • Given the past history of the left wing unions (but I repeat myself), it wouldn’t surprise me if Moscow hadn’t provided them with a little incentive for their strikes (not that inflation isn’t enough). Nothing like having the 5th columnists doing some sedition of their own on the home front.

  12. “The cost of travelling between UK cities is simply exorbitant.”

    Last summer, an aunt of mine went to visit family in Derby. She used to drive, but is getting on a bit, so prefers to take the train these days. She’s not online, so I said I’d have a butcher’s at prices for her. Again, because she’s not as young as she used to be, she prefers not to have to change trains.

    The cheapest – in fact, the only – direct train from Glasgow Central to Derby was £250. In fairness, it gets much cheaper if you’re prepared to change, but I couldn’t believe it. You can fly to Spain for less than that.

    Stonyground: I’m reminded of the postal strikes of the the late ’70s and early ’80s. My dad was a lawyer. They live on documents. (Even now.) And they know the law: the Post Office had a monopoly on letters. So when the postmen went on strike, they set up a subscription service, a club if you like, for exchanging documents… in parcels. They called it the Document Exchange. (In fact, there were several of these during the strikes. My dad’s firm was a member of the Rutland Exchange, which served Glasgow and Edinburgh. Eventually they were all consolidated into DX.)

    As the saying goes, the graveyards are full of people who thought they were indispensible. And you know what doesn’t go on strike? Roads.

  13. Interesting to note that Mayor Khan has decided to help alleve the misery by leaving all his London congestion charges completely unchanged on the strike days

  14. Friend is recovering, what’s your diagnosis of cause?

    My tummy was uncomfortable for a couple of days. Not vomiting or diarrhoea, just not comfortable – a bit like if you´ve eaten too much.

    Then a headache and then a very uncomfortable night and day where:

    I wanted to be sick or have a bowel movement but there was nothing happening (a couple of very small vomits – less than mouthful each time bringing up a small amount of then previous nights dinner),

    All the muscles below my waist were sore.

    I was very hot and sweaty.

    I had zero energy, even holding a glass of water was almost too heavy.

  15. Mask watch. I went shopping at Aldi today and only saw about three masks. One of the mask wearers was a guy wearing a comically bad wig. I wondered if the same mindset was needed for both the mask and the wig. I’m mostly bald and shave my head so I feel that I can justifiably look down on wearers of wigs and comb overs.

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