Rail's green agenda

30 October 2019

November 2019


Rail and modal shift can help deliver the green agenda pledged at Kyoto and Paris but we need a progressive industrial strategy so, while I applaud the school strikers and Extinction Rebellion, it hurt to have to rebut their attacks on mass transit. Such actions are counter-productive, and dilute the message, and we will always have an over-arching concern for our members and other staff impacted.


It's about building the right kind of green capacity for freight and passengers, especially after recent figures on people suffering stroke or heart problems from pollution. The issue is urgent but must be part of a just transition to maintain skilled, high-paid, unionised jobs to replace those industries impacted. What about if we built greener new factories here in the UK?


I did not know whether to laugh, cry, scream or shout when I saw the Prime Minister and Dominic Raab proclaim about putting workers’ rights in another document to protect us. Look at what both have said, and written, in the past and wonder whether they were lying then or now. The credibility is stretched to Pinocchio proportions and we are not that stupid.


We have had cause to remember Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield, and Cowden in recent weeks – tragedies that could have been avoided. There should never be a step backwards on safety or the lessons learned, but where is the legislation effective enough to deal with corporate manslaughter?


We remain one of the safest modes of transport anywhere but can never rest on our laurels and, as an industry, there is always something to bring us into disrepute. They haven’t got rid of the Pacer units, as they promised, and certain Tube trains have had to be removed from service due to faults.


Even with the Trade Union Act and Maggie's laws we have, through your solidarity and unity, even with enhanced thresholds, been able to deliver a mandate to have our voice heard. Hats off to the CWU for its campaign and the resulting vote against a management seeking to break its undertakings. Rail and mail have historic links and we are proud of the result and will support them in any way we can.


Sadly, former AGS Tony West has passed away; he was a friend and mentor to many, including me, and to generations of reps personified what it meant to be a comrade. His humanity to all, personality, time, effort, and encouragement went with a determination to make people’s working (and all-round) lives better. Our condolences and thoughts are with Pat and the family – a family of which, because of Tony, we always felt a part.


Yours fraternally,


Mick Whelan, General Secretary


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