Socialist Worker

With Scotrail licked, workers take on Southern bosses over role of train guards

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2523

Rail Bosses and SNP minister Derek Mackay (centre) worked together

Rail Bosses and SNP minister Derek Mackay (centre) worked together (Pic: Phyllis Stephen)

Abellio Scotrail conceded it would keep train guards last week in a blow to bosses’ plans to extend driver only operation (DOO)across the rail network.

The good news from Scotland came ahead of the announcement of 14 days of strikes by train guards on Southern Railway over the next two months.

Scotrail unions RMT and Aslef said Abellio had agreed to guarantee a guard on every new electrified train. The deal also means guards will retain their full status and skills.

Drivers will open doors and guards will retain responsibility for passenger safety at the interface between the train and the platform, closing the doors and ensuring safer train despatch.

This climbdown by Scotrail bosses would never have been possible without several solid guards’ strikes during the summer.

The RMT described it as “a major breakthrough in the battle against driver only operation”.


One of the safety reasons for opposing DOO and retaining train guards was underlined by a train derailment caused by a landslide at Watford just outside London last week.

The driver was reportedly trapped in the cab and the guard ensured all the passengers got to safety.

Southern guards are locked in a major battle with parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), hired by the Tories to drive through attacks on workers and unions.

Solidarity is vital for this group of workers.

Bosses have used all sorts of intimidation against other Govia workers to prevent them coordinating strikes with the guards.

The action on Southern begins with a three-day walkout on 11 October.

Send solidarity messages for Southern rail workers to [email protected] 
RMT members working on Virgin East Coast Trains have voted for a 24-hour strike for next Monday.
The action is to defend 200 jobs at risk from cuts that endanger safety.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, “Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin/Stagecoach boardroom.”

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