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Nationalise the threatened “Caley” railway depot

Matt Dobson

Over 200 skilled jobs are threatened with the possible closure of the St Rollox “Caley” historic railway yard in Springburn, North East Glasgow. Socialist Party Scotland gives our full solidarity to the workers and trade unions at St Rollox. 

Gemini Rail Services 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 claims that the depot is loss making. 

A consultation was launched on January 17, which is due to end next month, at which point the company can start to make staff redundant. 

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

In response Unite and the RMT have launched a public “ Rally Roon the Caley” campaign. 

Local Labour MP Paul Sweeney has rightly publicly backed the trade union’s calls for nationalisation. The depot was part of nationalised British rail until 1995.

Pat McIlvogue, of union Unite, 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 union’s Scottish organiser Mick Hogg said: “We support any plan which would preserve jobs at this vital national asset.”

Public sympathy for the idea of rail nationalisation is huge, particularly with the rising anger at the inefficiency of Abellio/Scotrail. It is urgent the short time left is used to build a mass  fight back against the loss of skilled jobs in one of the poorest urban areas of Britain, blighted by austerity.

Socialist Party Scotland says 

  • Unite and the RMT should demand Gemini “open the books” at all their sites to trade union and workforce scrutiny. Fight all redundancies. 
  • Build a mass trade union-led campaign to “Rally Roon the Caley” and labour movement mass demonstrations, including at the Scottish parliament, before the consultation period ends.
  • Trade unions to organise mass meetings of the workforce to prepare for action to defend the works, including consideration of the tactic of occupation. Appeal to workers and trade unions on the sites in England for support. 
  • The Scottish government should nationalise “The Caley”, sack the Gemini and Abellio profiteers and bring Scotland’s railway infrastructure into public ownership.