Socialist Worker

Drivers in Scotland refuse to move weapons train: Mass action can stop this war

Issue No. 1834

"It was a political protest over the threat to attack Iraq. It was a sign that as individuals and workers we were not prepared to be part of a murderous war, a conscientious objection to helping kill Iraqi civilians." That was the message from a rail worker based in Motherwell, near Glasgow. He was part of a group who refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition for the British military to use against Iraq.

Speaking exclusively to Socialist Worker, the worker added, 'I believe that other workers will want to make similar protests. There has never been a more important moment to take a stand.' In all, 15 workers were involved. Some drivers refused to operate the train between the Glasgow area and the Glen Douglas base on Scotland's west coast. This is Europe's largest NATO weapons store.

Others said they would not come in on rest days or work overtime to move the ammunition. Another group refused to learn the route knowledge necessary to move trains on this track.

English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS), the freight company, applied heavy pressure on the workers and their Aslef union. If Aslef had given any official support to the action it could have faced legal action. But the workers stood firm. The humiliated Ministry of Defence eventually cancelled the train and was forced to transport the load by road.

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, says, 'We fully support this action to impede an unjust and aggressive war. We hope that other people around the country will be able to do likewise.'

A group of rank and file dock workers in Genoa in Italy are discussing similar action to the train drivers' if ships leave the port to carry weapons to the Gulf.

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Sat 18 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1834
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