Socialist Worker

The story arrives

Issue No. 1845

WORKERS AT Arriva Trains Northern have compiled an 'e-book' telling the story of their year-long dispute. Trouble at the TOC (train operating company) explains what went right and wrong in what became the longest running rail dispute in history. The dispute started in January of last year after guards were offered a derisory 3 percent.

After a bitter series of one-day strikes, the RMT union decided to end the dispute two months ago, accepting a 4 percent pay deal. The e-book can be purchased from for a donation to the RMT disputes fund.

It is an honest account of a struggle between determined workers on one side, and an intransigent management backed by the government on the other. The e-book features contributions from union reps and officials as well as ordinary workers.

It pulls no punches, but it isn't a defeatist tome. There is a debate about the role of the RMT nationally and contributions that discuss the strategy of sporadic one-day strikes. One contributor says clearly that early escalation of the dispute could have won.

The most intriguing aspect of the e-book is the reproduction of parts of Demic's Diary, a detailed account of the action as it happened, and 'Demic Interactive', an online forum for Arriva guards and supporters.

The forum is home to serious intelligent debate as well as fierce attacks from scabs, proudly boasting of their attempts to undermine the union. It was also a much needed expression of solidarity both within Arriva and from other rail workers.

But the solidarity wasn't just online. As an RMT member on the tube I spent many days on Arriva picket lines. It was clear that there was real unity of purpose and real support. The first photo in the ebook is of an Arriva banner at Edgware Road station. Arriva workers travelled to London to support our pay strike.

They have given full support to firefighters and have attended anti-war marches across Britain. The rail workers can be proud of their actions and proud of this ebook, which will help other workers win their fights in the future.
Tony Collins

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Article information

Sat 5 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1845
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