Skilled jobs are going and more are threatened with the possible closure of the St Rollox ‘Caley’ historic railway yard in Glasgow. Owner Gemini is now issuing compulsory redundancies.

Disgracefully the Scottish National Party (SNP) government and Nicola Sturgeon have refused to step in and nationalise the plant to save the jobs – despite agreeing a refurbishment plan subsiding the private sector for two years.

Gemini Rail took over the Springburn site in August 2018 after a sale was agreed with Knorr-Bremse Rail Services.

But six months later, closure proposals were announced, with the company understood to want to centralise its maintenance services at a base in the south of England. The Unite and RMT trade unions dispute the company’s claim that the depot is loss making.

Gemini has rejected costed proposals from the trade unions for work to continue at the site.

In response Unite and the RMT have launched a ‘Rally roon the Caley’ campaign.

Local Labour MP Paul Sweeney has rightly publicly backed the trade union’s calls for nationalisation and raised the possibility of workers organising an occupation. Sweeney also raised the possibility of a buyout, possibly worker-led, but public ownership is more likely to protect the work in the long term.

Unite organiser Pat McIlvogue has also backed the nationalisation proposals.

He said: “Our primary concern is to keep this site open. The closure plans are complete industrial vandalism – this is a profitable and productive depot.

“We have suggested a range of options that include one of full nationalisation. We believe the owner of the site would be willing to sell or, alternatively, Network Rail could take on a lease.”

The RMT’s Scottish organiser Mick Hogg said: “We support any plan which would preserve jobs at this vital national asset.”

Public support for the idea of rail nationalisation is huge, particularly with the rising anger at the inefficiency of Abellio Scotrail.

It is urgent that the short time left is used to build a mass fightback against the loss of skilled jobs in one of the poorest areas of Britain, blighted by austerity. Socialist Party Scotland gives full solidarity to the workers and trade unions at St Rollox.

The fight of the Caley workers should be linked with that of the tens of thousands of British steel workers for jobs and the nationalisation of steel. Other manufacturing sectors like the car industry are also in severe crisis.

Socialist Party Scotland says:

  • Unite and the RMT should demand Gemini open the books and finances for all their sites, to trade union and workforce scrutiny. Fight all redundancies
  • Build a mass trade union led campaign to ‘Rally round the Caley’ including mass demonstrations before the consultation period ends
  • Trade unions to organise mass meetings of the workforce to prepare for mass action to defend the works, including consideration of the tactic of occupation. Appeal to workers and trade unions at other sites and the steel workers in Scunthorpe for support
  • The Scottish government should nationalise the Caley, sack the Gemini and Abellio profiteers and immediately bring all Scotland’s railway infrastructure into public ownership under the democratic management of workers and rail users
  • A planned democratic strategy for the economy for the needs of the majority, socialist nationalisation of key infrastructure such as rail and steel, the banks and the top 150 companies. A Corbyn government should commit to these socialist policies to protect skilled work – capitalism and the free market has totally failed

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