THE FIRST North Western (FNW) train company, which runs services in the north west of England, admitted it had to cancel 1,500 trains at the weekend as drivers staged their fourth 48-hour strike over pay. 'The action is biting,' driver Steve West told Socialist Worker. 'But many people are asking why we've gone for two days instead of seven, which would really hurt management.
'I hope the leaderships of the RMT and Aslef step up the action.' FNW has been forced to come up with a revised pay and conditions offer, which executives of the Aslef and RMT unions were to consider this week. But Aslef regional official Colin Smith says, 'The main contentious issues are still there. We want parity with the rest of the rail industry on pay and conditions.'
Management's demands include making drivers give six months notice before they can leave for another job. FNW, along with Arriva Trains Northern, has taken a hard line against its workers. The rest of the train operating companies are watching to see if they can do the same.
Arriva workers have taken 19 days of strike action over the last eight months. 'There's no doubt we would have hit management harder if we had gone all out at the beginning,' says one Arriva guard, who cannot be named for fear of management reprisals.
Donations to the Arriva strike fund are urgently needed. Send c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD.