Letter: Why I'm on strike: a signalman accuses Railtrack of shoddy treatment

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Sir: The Channel tunnel is open and, at last, the British railway network directly connected to that of mainland Europe. International freight villages - partnerships between private and public sector - are coming on stream in the major industrial and commercial regions of the UK, so that the Government's declared objectives of transferring freight from road to rail may be realised with growing public support. Local authorities are sponsoring new stations, services and trains in response to increasing congestion, pollution and environmental damage.

All this, and more, appears threatened by the worsening dispute between Railtrack and the RMT union over the pay and conditions of signalmen and women. A resolution must be quickly implemented if permanent damage to the railway industry and all those dependent on it is to be avoided.

With 40 years' experience in railways, I know the signalmen and women to be among the most responsible and dedicated groups of people in Britain, and yet they and their representatives have a longstanding and deep-seated grievance that has burst upon a 'new' and perhaps inexperienced employer.

Direct contact between the parties to the dispute has failed to make progress towards a resolution. Arbitration is what is required. Acas was established to deal with situations like this. This dispute should be either settled or frozen until the arbitrator has reported.

Yours faithfully,



20 July

The writer is a former divisional manager, British Railways.