RMT union members at Southern rail struck on Tuesday. It was the start of a further three days of action over safety and the role of guards.
Guards are fighting the dangerous driver only operation (DOO). This would reduce them to “supervisors” collecting fines and leave safety down to drivers alone.
The safety of passengers and staff is not for saleRMT general secretary Mick Cash
Management have already tried to introduce a year’s “secondment” under the new deal. That would mean new starters having their safety role guaranteed for just a year.
Southern rail and its parent company Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) has tried to claim that support for the strikes is weak.
But the RMT union says that’s not true. “RMT disputes the bogus figures on the number of staff working”, said RMT general secretary Mick Cash. “Our reps at all locations report that morale is high and that support for the strike remains rock solid.”
One striking guard told Socialist Worker that management are getting desperate and that “There are unconfirmed reports of managers without the Personal Track Safety (PTS) training scabbing on the strike.”
The National Pensioners Convention has supported the strikers, condemning GTR’s proposed changes as unsafe.
“Driver only trains that stop at unstaffed stations will be committing an offence under the Equality Act 2010, following the findings of a ‘mystery traveller’ experiment carried out earlier this year,” it said.
A recent accident where conductors played a key role helping people to safety highlighted the need for an extra worker as well as a driver on trains.
GTR have offered workers a “bribe” of an extra £2,000 a year to take on their new role.
But “the safety of passengers and staff is not for sale,” said Cash.
The next strikes are planned for 3-5 November.