Industrial relations is a difficult subject for a monthly magazine to cover, as our print deadlines can make it impossible to keep up with what is often a fast-changing situation.
It has generally been this magazine’s policy to take a light touch approach to industrial relations – after all, there is every possibility that we once we have pushed the ‘print’button on an issue containing a report of an imminent strike, those involved will get back around the table for further discussions and call off the action. And it could be argued that many localised disputes are just that, without the implications for the wider railway which would give them strategic importance and therefore prominence.
There have clearly been exceptions – the long-running dispute at Govia Thameslink Railway a few years back being a good example. But nothing in recent decades can compare to the present unrest – which we are fairly confident won’t have been resolved by the time you are reading this. And with the railway already crippled by cost challenges and by uncertainty over its future, tackling the topic now seems unavoidable.