OVER 3,000 guards on 12 train operating companies struck on Thursday of last week in the third day of action over safety called by the RMT union. The strike was again solid and highly effective, despite coordinated attempts by train companies, including those not involved in the strike, to use managers to scab.
The RMT executive was to meet on Tuesday of this week to consider calling further strike dates. It is also looking at how to up the political profile of the dispute. The government, through the Strategic Rail Authority, is backing the companies that are most prepared to put profit before safety.
'Whenever anyone hears about what our strike is about', one guard on the Virgin West Coast line told Socialist Worker, 'they support us. The level of support for the strike among RMT members is great. We know we are in a serious battle and the question is about taking the action to win.'
An RMT rep at Shrewsbury said, 'Last week's strike was solid. We had pickets out from Central Trains and Wales and the Borders, who have just joined the action. 'There were 27 people on the picket line and we had people not in the RMT refusing to cross.'
Several striking guards told Socialist Worker that the dispute has to draw the lessons from the 14-month Arriva Trains Northern struggle. The company was eventually able to ride out one-day and two-day strikes. The recent RMT train grades conference rallied to a call to escalate the guard's strikes. There is unevenness across the different companies.
'What we need is to build up a sense of solidarity,' says one guard on Arriva Trains Merseyside. 'That can build up the confidence of everybody to step up the action.' The RMT is discussing seriously upping the dispute, through action and campaigning, throughout May.