Socialist Worker

‘I don’t know’ about Southern Rail says top transport official

Issue No. 2530

Train guards from Southern Rail protest over driver only operated trains

Train guards from Southern Rail protest over driver only operated trains (Pic: Guy Smallman)

As guards on Southern trains prepared for a 48-hour walkout over driver only operated (DOO) trains from next Tuesday, MPs questioned government officials over their role.

The transport select committee heard last week from Peter Wilkinson, the official in charge of franchising and passenger services at the Department for Transport (DfT).

Wilkinson was asked why proposals for extending DOO were not in consultation documents for Britain’s biggest rail franchise, Govia Thamelink Railway (GTR). His reply was, “I don’t know.”

And when asked why he misled MPs about GTR’s performance figures his “lack of knowledge” was the excuse. Wilkinson runs a firm to “promote the formation of private sector companies operating in the UK rail sector”.

And he wants “punch ups” with trade unions to help the Tories drive through attacks on workers and boost rail bosses’ profits.

A petition has forced the Scottish government to say that it was “preparing the ground” for Scotrail to be publicly operated should operator Abellio not improve performance.

This is reason to celebrate. But the Scottish government may be replicating the outsourcing model common in local government with council-owned firms.

These are often used to drive down workers’ pay and conditions.

Tube Lines campaign wins pension scheme victory

The RMT union hailed a significant victory for Tube Lines workers on London Underground last week.

The new agreement means Tube Lines workers, including future staff, will be able to access Transport for London’s final salary pension scheme.

A four-year pay deal and a deal on Night Tube, on the same basis as one previously agreed with London Underground workers, were also accepted.

A hangover of New Labour’s privatisation disaster meant the workers were excluded from pension agreements available to other London Underground workers.

The union said the deal “turns the tide on attacks on final salary pensions”.

General secretary Mick Cash argued it was a vindication of “militant, industrial trade unionism, backed up by professional negotiations and campaigning”.

Meanwhile, the results of RMT strike ballots of nearly 4,000 Tube workers on all stations and drivers on the Piccadilly line were set to be announced as Socialist Worker went to press.

The TSSA Tube workers’ union announced it was also balloting station staff members from Friday.

The ballot is set to end on 29 November.

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