Socialist Worker

Guards at Scotrail strike to protect safety

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2514

A ScotRail train

A ScotRail train (Pic: Wiki Commons)


Train guards in Scotland struck for the twelfth time last Sunday in their dispute with bosses at Abellio Scotrail over driver only operation (DOO).

The RMT union members were set to strike again this Sunday.

They are increasingly at odds with the Scottish government that awarded Abellio the contract and which has done nothing to intervene.

The media paints disputes over DOO as being about guards wanting to open and close train doors.

This masks the fact that guards are trained to be responsible for over 35 areas of safety.

DOO would downgrade their safety critical role. Getting rid of guards undermines safety, but is worth hundreds of millions to train operators in the long term.

Transport

That’s why one Department for Transport (DfT) official was so keen on a “punch up” with unions in the south east.

The official, Peter Wilkinson, owns a firm that exists “to promote the formation of private sector companies operating in the UK rail sector”.

With officials like Wilkinson it’s easy to understand why the DfT is happy to keep shovelling millions in public money to failing rail firms.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), a consortium led by Go Ahead Group, runs Southern and other rail operations.

It is paid a fixed fee by the DfT. Southern cut 350 trains a day recently from its advertised service to try and quell fury at its woeful service. But it still can’t make the fewer trains it operates run on time.

Train operations in Britain should be renationalised.


Some 2,000 RMT union members on Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) are balloting for action over a threat to jobs, working conditions and safety.

VTEC is run by Virgin and Stagecoach. The union says the firms want to hack away at workers’ terms and conditions, and refuse to give assurances on protecting pay rates, staffing levels, safety and sticking to existing agreements.

The ballot runs until 9 August.


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