Socialist Worker

Solid picket lines on Northern rail strike

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2552

Around 250 people joined a protest last Wednesday called by the RMT outside parliament in London. It marked a year of struggle over DOO on the Southern rail network by train guards who have struck 30 days

Around 250 people joined a protest last Wednesday called by the RMT outside parliament in London. It marked a year of struggle over DOO on the Southern rail network by train guards who have struck 30 days (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Over 1,000 Northern rail train guards and drivers union struck last Friday.

The RMT union members are resisting bosses’ attempts to undermine safety with moves to extend driver only operation (DOO).

Bosses at Arriva Rail North want to introduce new DOO trains and halve the number of trains with a guarantee of a guard on them.

They want to do this on a network where around two thirds of its 527 stations are unstaffed.

Steve Shaw, a RMT national executive member, said, “Pickets were rock solid across the network with no reports of any RMT members crossing picket lines.”

Steve said that at Wigan, where he is based, more drivers in the Aslef union joined the picket.

During previous walkouts drivers joined the RMT, while also keeping their Aslef membership so they could join the strike.

Balloted 

He also added that a meeting of Aslef members was due to take place last Sunday.

Many want to be balloted for strikes alongside their RMT colleagues. Steve said, “If this does not come to fruition I am told a large number are also taking up dual membership in order to join our fight against DOO.”

The RMT executive was set to meet as Socialist Worker went to press to discuss future action. The Tories have decided DOO should be the default operating method.

Northern is one of a number of current disputes in defence of train guards and against DOO.

Workers on Northern, Southern and Merseyrail struck together last month.

Northern driver and RMT member Tommy called on “all organisations and individuals to join our campaign in whatever way they can—you’ll be welcome”.

Station walkout to defend ‘London Bridge 3’ workers

RMT union members working on London Underground were set to strike for 24 hours from 10pm on Sunday.

The walkout by staff at London Bridge station is in defence of colleagues, the London Bridge Three.

One of them was sacked and two others disciplined for an incident last year involving a passenger travelling without a ticket.

They have been targeted in what the union describes as an “appalling miscarriage of justice”.

The RMT held separate ballots of workers in the London Bridge and Waterloo areas. But only the London Bridge group will be striking despite both recording overwhelming strike votes.

This is because the Waterloo result did not meet new ballot thresholds outlined in the Tories’ Trade Union Act.

Support for a strike can often be much higher than a ballot turnout.

But with the new draconian rules this is a lesson to all trade unionists not to abstain from voting—and to maximise the vote.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.