Tag Archives: transport

Rail strikes suspended for talks on new deal – but is anything new on offer?

Mick Lynch: he wasn’t holding back when he appeared on the BBC’s Question Time. Has anything changed?

Does Mick Lynch have a good reason to suspend rail strikes?

Here’s a quick summary of the story:

Mr Lynch, the RMT union’s general secretary, said

there had been “the promise of an offer” on pay from the rail operating companies.

However, when contacted by the BBC, rail employers and the government said their position had not changed.

If they’re not offering anything new, then there’s no reason to suspend strike action – is there?

The BBC’s report added that the suspension has been announced 11 days before a fresh RMT strike ballot is due to close on November 15.

Mr Lynch previously told the BBC that he expected workers to vote in favour, and warned that there could be strikes for another six months if no agreement is reached.

Will the new talks affect the way the ballot goes? Will they even take place before it finishes, so union members can be sure of the situation when they go to vote? Is the new offer – whatever it is – just an attempt to interfere with the result of the ballot?

Could Mr Lynch have behaved any differently?

This Writer isn’t sure he could have. But I wonder whether the future of rail services is being wagered on a form of negotiation brinkmanship.

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‘Summer of Discontent’: bus drivers join TfL and rail workers in strike on August 19 and 20

Some of us are old enough to remember the ‘Winter of Discontent’ of 1978-9 that led to the toppling of a Labour government and the installation of Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street.

So I’m delighted that the tables are turned and the Tories are getting the same treatment.

Here’s the gist:

London bus drivers have joined the UK’s “summer of discontent” and announced a strike for 19 and 20 August following a dispute over salaries.

The union Unite said more than 1,600 of its members working for bus operator London United will join the walkout after the company’s parent, RATP Dev Transit, offered a 7.8 pay increase over this year and next.

The walkout is expected to create maximum disruption, as it will coincide with both the TfL and national railway strike.

It’s another step in the right direction but will the UK’s Tory government pay attention to anything less than a national strike?

And, the way matters are progressing, how long will it be before that happens?

Source: Bus drivers join ‘summer of discontent’ and announce strike for 19 and 20 August

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Government department cancels P&O contract over mass sackings

Moored: P&O ferries were subjected to safety checks – which many failed – after foreign agency workers on less than the minimum wage were hired to replace illegally-sacked UK staff.

It’s extremely rare that This Site gets to praise the government for doing something right.

So let’s give credit where it’s due to the civil servants at the Home Office and Department of Transport, who have cancelled a contract with P&O Ferries over the company’s decision to sack around 800 UK-based employees and replace them with agency workers from abroad, paid less than the minimum wage.

Border Force has terminated its agreement with P&O to provide contingency travel services to juxtaposed ports – UK border controls set up in Calais, Dunkirk and some railway stations in France and Belgium, where goods and passengers are checked ahead of travel.

The contract was to transport border staff to northern France if there was a problem at the Channel Tunnel and was the DoT’s only deal with P&O.

But the government has also awarded P&O’s owner, DP World, contracts to run two so-called Free Ports. Some of us have been waiting for those contracts to be cancelled ever since the unannounced (and therefore illegal) mass sackings happened in March.

If all contracts with this rogue company and its parent aren’t killed, then the Tories are effectively supporting the illegal removal of UK workers from their jobs.

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Patel strikes again: asylum seekers to be deported to African dictatorship

Justifying the unacceptable: as always, Priti Patel has shown herself to be callous, immoral and possibly homicidal.

Priti Patel has announced a “cruel and inhumane” deal to transport asylum seekers crossing the English Channel to Rwanda – a country where her own government has expressed concern about “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

Patel praised the record of the east African country on human rights. It was the site of the genocide of 800,000 people, exactly 28 years ago in 1994, in which members of the minority Tutsi group were murdered by the majority Hutus.

The genocide was carried out with shocking efficiency. Lists of Hutu government opponents were handed out to militias who killed them, along with all of their families. ID cards bored details of people’s ethnic group, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered. Thousands of Tutsi women were forced to become sex slaves.

The slaughter ended after 100 days, when the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front when a military victory against the Hutu government. The country is currently a dictatorship run by the RPF.

Critics of current president Paul Kagame have been murdered – or suffered assassination attempts – and concerns have been raised about the conviction on terrorism charges of Paul Rusesabagina, subject of Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda about his role saving more than 1,000 people during the genocide.

Only last year, the UK government – of which Priti Patel is Home Secretary – expressed serious concerns to the United Nations over “continued restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom” in Rwanda, and called for independent investigations into those “allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

And now Patel wants to send vulnerable refugees, who may have been victims of atrocity and torture, to this country. Perhaps she considers Rwanda’s record to be mild in comparison with her own views on what should happen to asylum-seekers.

It is – and always has been – a bizarre pose from the daughter of economic migrants from Uganda (originally of Indian origin). If she thinks the current wave of asylum seekers should not be allowed to stay in the UK, why haven’t she and all her family packed themselves off back to Uganda?

And is this really about solving the UK’s illegal immigration problem – or about saving ‘Big Dog’ Boris Johnson’s bacon?

He has been named by the Metropolitan Police as a criminal for attending illegal parties in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the Telegraph, he’s facing a second fine over former communication chief Lee Cain’s leaving party, where he is understood to have made a speech and remained in attendance for a considerable amount of time.

The knock-on effect is that he has lied to Parliament – an offence for which there is only one penalty: He must resign as prime minister.

But the overprivileged, entitled criminal and liar doesn’t want to go, so it seems he is looking for a way to distract us from his crimes.

So suddenly he’s on our TV’s appealing to NIMBYs (people who say Not In My Back Yard to particular events or plans) across the UK to support what he called a “shared humanitarian impulse” with a nation whose human rights record is, let’s be honest – terrifying.

This Writer hopes it’s a grave miscalculation.

People don’t want to be overcome by waves of refugees seeking to settle in the UK in response to the foreign adventures of Tory (and other) governments who have merrily bombed their own countries into rubble, but there is an obvious answer to that: stop bombing their countries.

The excuse that asylum seekers are encouraging and enriching people smugglers is a lie. In fact, Johnson’s government – and especially Patel herself – is encouraging people smugglers by closing off all legal routes into the UK.

He says they should only take such legal routes, but that is impossible when they don’t exist!

So I hope the people of the UK see through this transparent attempt to whitewash a dirty, corrupt politician by scapegoating people who only want to be able to live in peace, in a peaceful country.

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Tories review all contracts with P&O Ferries and DP World over 800 axed jobs

Amazingly, the UK’s Conservative government is actually doing the right thing – so far!

The government is reviewing all its contracts with both P&O Ferries and parent company DP World after the shock firings of 800 staff over Zoom – exactly as This Site demanded over the weekend.

I didn’t believe a Tory government would actually do it. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, I am forced to applaud Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) for putting the contracts at risk:

“For our part we’re reviewing all Government contracts with P&O Ferries as a matter of urgency and with DP World and, where possible, we’re looking to use other providers if indeed there are any contracts where the UK Government is involved; I believe at this point that they have been historic in nature rather than current,” Shapps said.

Not only that, but Shapps went further. He said the companies could face criminal prosecution and unlimited fines:

“It’s been quite clear that it’s been handled by the company absolutely disastrously, which is why we’ve asked the Insolvency Service to look at the notification requirements and consider if further action is appropriate – especially if, as we’re concerned, the relevant notice periods weren’t given, the relative consultation didn’t take place,” Shapps said.

“And I can inform the House that that would be a matter for criminal prosecution and unlimited fines as well,” he added.

And he said he was taking steps to remove the companies from influencing UK maritime affairs:

“We’re considering further steps we can take to remove P&O Ferries’ influence from British maritime, including positions on any advisory boards because again I don’t want to see that company, with the way the management has behaved, advising the way that British maritime is shaped and rolls out.”

Safety checks have been ordered on P&O ships – and they will be blocked from sailing if they fail.

And there are concerns that new agency workers from India are being paid just £1.80 per hour, although P&O has said this is not true.

Source: Transport secretary urges P&O Ferries to repair damages or face ‘unlimited fines’ over shock sackings – upday News UK

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Labour is becoming a pit of lies. No wonder everybody is walking away

Sadiq Khan: the train is probably empty because no RMT driver would want to get on one with him in it.

Wasn’t this a desperately disappointing development from Sadiq Khan, just when Tube drivers need support from the London Mayor who belongs to the Party of the Workers?

Tube drivers are striking because Transport for London has ripped up existing agreements and working arrangements for the Night Tube, demanding extra night and weekend working.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch explains: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.

“We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers.

“This strike action, and its serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.

“We warned months ago that slashing two hundred Night Tube Train Driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality and soon. The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage.“

Contrast that with what Sadiq Khan, Labour’s London Mayor, has said about it, and you’ll understand why Unite’s Sharon Graham has tweeted what she did:

Here’s where Khan crossed the line:

It seems the claim was not true:

The letter to Khan states: “Our Lead Organiser for TfL wrote an email to London Underground senior managers… which ended with the words “We are happy to attend ACAS to resolve the dispute. And are available to do so.” We never received a reply to this email.

“Our reps and members have seen the email in which RMT offers to meet at ACAS and are justifiably furious at the complete misrepresentation of our position in the public domain. It is having an incendiary effect. It’s hard for us to understand why you’ve done this and all I can think is that you have been fed an inaccurate line by hawks within TfL.”

The explanation kindly suggested by Mr Lynch in the letter, even if true, wouldn’t let Khan off the hook because he should have checked the facts with the RMT Union.

It’s a terrible position for a Labour politician, in an elected position of authority, to choose. Here’s the better choice:

And here’s what all Labour politicians should be saying about it:

Sadly, the damage has already been done:

And we have identified the heart of the problem:

That’s exactly it. The rot is at the heart of the Labour Party because it is spreading from the leader himself.

Yesterday morning, This Writer’s Twitter feed was full of comments like these:

There are lots of good points in those comments. Probably the most pertinent are those stating that people who want a better country – for everyone rather than just the very rich – don’t owe Labour anything now that it clearly does not have the principles on which it was founded.

Nobody is obliged to vote for Labour. It is Starmer’s – and Khan’s – responsibility to show, by example, that they are worthy of our support.

Starmer’s record since April 2020 – and Khan’s shocking performance over the Night Tube – tell us they aren’t even interested in it.

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Is Department for Transport planning ‘all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’?

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson’s message of thanks to transport workers who kept groceries, other goods and medical supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis. His government is apparently planning to attack their jobs, pay and pensions as soon as it can.

The Tory government is planning to reward key transport workers who kept the UK running through the Covid crisis – with a kick in the teeth, it seems.

The Department for Transport is hoping to employ a “union-buster” to take on workers in an “all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions”, according to the RMT union.

And where the DfT leads, will other government departments follow in a renewed effort to destroy workers’ representation once and for all and begin a new dark age for the people of the UK?

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) reports that the DfT is recruiting for a Rail Pensions and Workforce Director who will be a member of a new-created team of 15 workers.

An advertisement in The Guardian states that the successful applicant “will shape and define the future of pensions and workforce in the rail sector”, operating in a “politically sensitive environment”.

Welfare Journal quotes RMT general secretary Mick Cash:

RMT has been warning that the Government and the employers would be gearing up for a post-COVID assault on our members across the transport sector and here they are headhunting a dedicated hitman or woman.

It would be a scandal if the essential transport workers who have kept key staff and freight moving throughout the pandemic were rewarded with a kick in the teeth on jobs, pay and pensions.

And why not?

Matt Hancock has already slapped NHS employees in the face with his refusal to reward doctors, nurses and support staff for all their dedication, working to keep thousands of people alive in the face of indifference from their political employers who failed to source appropriate equipment.

So why shouldn’t the government tell the people who transported all the supplies – including, no doubt, the medical gear that we all needed (when it finally turned up) – that their contribution is not appreciated at all and that they will be punished rather than rewarded for it?

What did these people expect from selfish, ignorant, entitled toffs?

And what can you expect in the future? You know the Tories will get around to attacking you as soon as they’re able – don’t you?

Source: Government ‘gearing up for an all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’ | Welfare Journal

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If these lies are all Johnson has, Sadiq Khan is on course for a second term as London mayor

Boris Johnson used Prime Minister’s Questions to launch an unwise and unmerited two-pronged attack on London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

First he said that financial problems suffered by Transport for London (TfL) were Khan’s fault.

The Department for Transport is, it seems, refusing to provide £5.65 billion to keep TfL running after it suffered huge losses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. It is offering a “papering-over-the-cracks” funding package that comes with a demand that Khan accepts measures including higher council tax, a larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares – including the removal of free travel for children and young people. Otherwise, the threat is that the Westminster government will take over control of TfL from City Hall.

Asked if he was going to inflict a congestion charge on four million Londoners who had already been afflicted with Covid-19 and financial ruin, Johnson said: “The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances… Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.”

Responding to a further question from Tory Bob Blackman, Johnson became extremely concerned with self-justification: “The black hole in [the] finances of TfL, the bankruptcy of TfL, which, by the way, was left in robust financial health by the previous Mayor—it certainly was—is entirely the fault of the current Labour Mayor of London, with his grossly irresponsible demagogic fare policies, which, I may say, were never pursued by the previous Mayor of London, and the fault lies entirely with him.”

But Johnson’s claims were put to rest within minutes by the fact-checkers at the BBC’s Politics Live:

Khan himself brought figures directly relating to TfL to TV audiences later:

Not satisfied with one lie, Johnson also used PMQs to claim that Hammersmith Bridge is falling down because of Khan’s “incompetence”: “Hammersmith bridge has been closed thanks entirely to the incompetence of the current Labour Mayor of London, and that Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate, is going to reopen it, which is the best thing possible.”

In fact, the incompetent who failed to repair the bridge at the right time was Boris Johnson himself.

The bridge was built 133 years ago and is structurally unsafe after decades of failure – by successive political authorities – to repair it while traffic for which it was never intended used it.

It was closed in 2014 and repairs could have been authorised in 2016 – but the mayor at the time – Boris Johnson – refused to authorise them.

Instead, Boris Johnson spent around £50 million on consultants working on his vanity ‘Garden Bridge’ project that was ultimately cancelled.

Oh, and didn’t a bomb go off there as well?

The public were having none of Boris Johnson‘s lies:

Shaun Bailey has agreed that he would re-open Hammersmith Bridge if he became London Mayor…

… he just didn’t say he would repair it first. So members of the public have drawn their own conclusions about what he would do:

Yes indeed: “Shaun Bailey will probably suggest a zip wire across the river.”

The issue of the bridge can be summed up in this tweet:

That’s right – Boris Johnson can indeed make it up. And he did.

But we know the facts. All he has done is show the world he’s the stupidest kind of liar – and that his lickspittle Bailey should never be given elected office anywhere.

When Khan became London Mayor, he was voted in with the highest personal mandate of any UK politician in history.

Johnson’s words today may help ensure that he is re-elected with a mandate that is even higher.

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Here’s the reason it is impossible to treat the plague in a post-truth country

The United Kingdom is never going to get to grips with Covid-19 if its government ministers continue to lie about it.

Grant Shapps – a man well-known for playing fast-and-loose with the facts – was up to his old tricks at a press briefing last week when, as Transport Secretary, he claimed trains were not overcrowded since the Tories ordered people back to work, despite numerous photos of overcrowded trains.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

That looks pretty crowded – and this was the Victoria Line. The Central Line at the height of rush hour must be a nightmare.

Bear in mind that social distancing rules still apply and we are supposed to stay at least two metres away from other people.

Shapps claimed that tube trains have been at just five per cent occupancy – which leads This Writer to wonder whether he has been averaging out usage over each 24-hour period, rather than examining the situation at times when people are most likely to be infected by close proximity to others.

He has announced that it will be mandatory to wear face masks on public transport from June 15, when the government intends to ease lockdown restrictions further and send more people back to work.

There is no justification for such easing; the nation remains at Covid alert level 4, meaning the virus remains at large and its reproduction rate is increasing.

But this is a government that won’t accept our truth; it is too busy pushing its own on us.

So snake-oil salesman Shapps told us, in very poor English: “In fact, there hasn’t been very much crowding situation going on.

“It’s not the case … that transport’s been overcrowded. We’ve been watching it very carefully.”

He continued to deny the facts, despite being shown photographic evidence of overcrowding on trains, taken on different days since the lockdown was eased:

“We tracked it on a day by day basis.

“I can literally tell you the trains where there was an issue, because the train was broken down, or Canning Town [in east London], where those pictures were shared very widely.

“But actually the broad picture is there have been one or two people sitting in carriages a lot of the time.”

What can you do, in the face of such blatant denial of the facts from a government minister who is hell-bent on exposing you to a killer disease?

What will you do?

Source: Grant Shapps claims trains aren’t overcrowded despite photos of overcrowded trains – Mirror Online

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Johnson’s latest Covid-19 demand will make us ALL look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’

If we’re going to wear face masks, let’s wear these: they were seized by US authorities during the George Floyd protests, to stop demonstrators protecting themselves from Covid-19 and are going spare. Can an enterprising entrepreneur please import them?

Funny how the things we say come back to haunt us.

Boris Johnson infamously said that Muslim women who wear the burqa look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” in an Islamophobic newspaper column of a couple of years ago.

But now his government has issued a decree that we should all wear face-coverings when we leave the house, starting on June 15.

The response has been logical:

The answer is that it has been deemed necessary for people to wear face coverings as more of the UK’s workforce return to their place of employment due to the government’s unaccountable decision to ease lockdown while Covid-19 infections are still increasing (as shown by the fact that we are still at alert level 4).

The simple fact is that anybody in public should be wearing them anyway:

The advice is to make masks at home, but I have a better idea.

If you read the caption under the image at the top of this article, you’ll know that US law enforcement officials seized masks that were intended to protect people from Covid-19 during anti-racism protests in that country. They are emblazoned with the words “Stop killing black people”.

Over here in the UK, government policy has led to a situation in which black people and other ethnic minorities are four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the rest of us. The government suppressed a report on the reasons for this.

My suggestion is, wouldn’t it be a great idea to offer to take these masks off American hands and wear them ourselves – as a reminder to Boris Johnson that even his plans for dealing with the pandemic are racist?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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