26 March 2010

Derailed by a Crow

Strikes are like buses.  They all come along at once.

The threatened rail strike is one where the Government is directly involved, so let’s put one matter to bed.  Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, shouldn't be allowed to get away with this:

Both sides should seek to resolve this dispute by negotiation and not confrontation, and I am urging them to do so.

One side of the rail dispute is the Government.  Network Rail is a nationalised industry.  We own it and take all the risks.  Adonis sets the parameters, though the Rail Regulator, on how the railways are managed and maintained.  He has the ultimate responsibility for the infrastructure, but not for the trains.

On the other side of the fence sits Bob Crow, who has no allegiance to the Labour party, only to his members.  There is nothing he would like more than to cause a spot of bother during an election campaign.

The reasons why the strike has been called are complex and go back to the days when one Stephen Byers, who made the decision to renationalise the railways, was Transport Secretary.  It’s all to do with driving down the costs of keeping an aging network operational.  New technology has been introduced for maintenance, which utilises less labour.

What hasn't helped is that the Office of Rail Regulation issued a letter saying that Network Rail’s efficiency targets may imperil safety, which they will not.  But that is what comrade Crow has focussed on.

The RMT union is not another Unite. Its structure is simple.  There are no unions within unions with different agendas.

For obvious reasons both Network Rail and the Government will want this dispute resolved.  There is plenty of time, but Lord Adonis will have to get involved.  The statement he made was disingenuous, and he knows it.

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