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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
TUC backs rail renationalisation
Tube
London Underground is one area of contention
Unions have overwhelmingly backed the renationalisation of the railways.

During a vote at the annual TUC conference in Blackpool, delegates said taking the rail system back into state ownership was vital in the wake of a series of rail crashes since privatisation.


It is the greedy and incompetent fat cats who have wrecked our industry and made themselves millions in the process

Mick Rix
They also backed the renationalisation of nuclear energy company British Energy which received a 410m government cash injection to avert its collapse.

The left-wing leader of rail union the RMT, Bob Crow, also called on the government to abandon controversial plans to part-privatise London Underground.

On the final day of the conference transport is dominating the agenda with union concern over safety issues and the way buses, trains and air traffic control (NATs) are being run.

The TUC urged the government to urgent action to tackle the way NATs is being financed.

A large proportion of the 430m netted from the part-privatisation of the service should be reinvested so the organisation can have financial stability, delegates agreed.

Union discontent

Because of rail privatisation, railway workers are employed by a number of different companies with varying employment conditions.

Unhappy as many unions were with Conservative transport policy, there was also discontent about Labour's plans, despite considerable extra investment.

However, delegates are considering a motion supporting the government's action in putting Railtrack into administration as a "step towards the complete renationalisation of the former British Rail".

The leader of train drivers' union Aslef, Mick Rix, argued that recent rail tragedies at Ladbroke Grove, Southall and Hatfield were a result of the way the system had been run since privatisation.

"The political decision to privatise our industry has led to disaster and tragedy," he said.

'Fat cats'

"Lives needlessly lost, many of them my own members.

"A network wrecked by the tragedy of Paddington, where just 60,000 - if it had been spent on relocating signal 109 - would have saved 33 lives."

Mr Rix went on to attack Richard Bowker, the chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority.

"The chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority thinks he has identified the problem - it's the unions, and greedy workers asking for more pay," he told the conference.

"Let me tell Richard Bowker a thing or two: it is not my members, who are doing a difficult and often dangerous job, who are the problem.

"It is the greedy and incompetent fat cats who have wrecked our industry and made themselves millions in the process."

Among unions' demands was a call for the government's 10-year transport plan to be revised and "significant targets" set to reduce the UK's "environmentally, socially and economically damaging levels of congestion".

Traffic charge

London Mayor Ken Livingstone's plans to introduce congestion charging in an effort to reduce the number of cars used in central London is also to come under scrutiny.

Mr Livingstone has suggested he will end the charges if they prove not to reduce traffic.

The conference will then consider a series of motions to do with maritime issues including security at sea.

There is also growing concern over the treatment of workers at sea.

Part of the business on final day of the conference involved electing a new TUC president.

The job went to the recently retired head of teachers union NASUWT, Nigel de Gruchy

The conference will end with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.


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See also:

26 Jul 02 | Politics
05 Feb 02 | Politics
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04 Aug 02 | Politics
06 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Sep 02 | Business
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