Socialist Worker

Unions push for more action in face of obstinate rail bosses

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2555

A protest called by the RMT union last month over DOO outside parliament

A protest called by the RMT union last month over DOO outside parliament (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The state of the railways is a good reason to vote out the Tories on 8 June and back Jeremy Corbyn.

Privatisation has failed. Rail renationalisation is a popular policy, even among sections of Tory voters.

And it’s not just because private firms rip passengers off, like Arriva Rail North did with two fare hikes in nine months. And never mind the delays and overcrowding.

It’s not because many of the train operators running the system are partly owned by other states—it doesn’t matter about the flag in the boardroom, the problem is private control and profit.

Neither is it only that global hedge funds, investment banks and venture capitalists cream huge profit from their ownership of the trains. Or that a £2 billion fire sale of Network Rail assets is to be used to reduce the deficit the Tories increased, instead of funding urgent rail upgrades.

It is because the Tories want to let the market rip into the railways, jeopardising safety and putting lives at risk. Network Rail is to become a loose network of mini versions of Railtrack—the firm that showed privatisation kills.

The Tories’ push to make driver only operation (DOO) the default is another example and is a key battle to win. That’s why this week rail unions called for action again on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail to defend safety from Tory free market fanatics.

Accessible

The fight against DOO is also about accessible travel for all and having properly trained staff available to provide the lifeline of assisted travel to all who need it.

The fat cats view this as an expendable expense they can do without.

As talks with bosses at the Tories’ favourite rail firm—Southern owners Govia Thameslink Railway—broke down the Aslef drivers’ union announced it is to reinstate an overtime ban from 4 June.

Guards on Southern, along with their RMT union colleagues on Northern and Merseyrail, announced a coordinated 24-hour strike for 30 May.

The Tory press will howl about “travel chaos” and Labour-supporting unions holding commuters to ransom as a stick to beat Corbyn with. They will lie that rail workers are striking over who gets to close the doors and that official-sounding rail bodies say DOO is completely safe.

These so-called journalists will be serving the same interests that control the media outlets they spew out their bile for—the bosses who value profit above all else.

Labour’s renationalisation doesn’t go far enough as it will take many years until franchises end.

But when the walkouts happen, back the strikers fighting for public railways—and back Jeremy Corbyn on 8 June so we can push to get rid of these parasites sooner.


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