Socialist Worker

United rail strike to keep trains safe

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2574

Arriva Rail North pickets in Skipton, North Yorkshire

Arriva Rail North pickets in Skipton, North Yorkshire (Pic: RMT)


Guards in the RMT union struck together on four rail networks this week to stop the implementation of driver-only operation (DOO) trains.

Workers on the Southern, Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia networks held a coordinated walkout on Tuesday.

They were set to strike again on Thursday—alongside London Underground drivers (see below).

There were picket lines at stations on all four networks.

This was the first strike at Greater Anglia. Workers at the other three companies struck together last month in the long-running dispute.

DOO, getting rid of train guards, will make the railways unsafe and inaccessible.

Paul Cox, RMT regional organiser, was on the Southern picket line at London Victoria station.

He told Socialist Worker, “This strike is solid as usual. We aren’t going away—we’re hoping to bring more train companies out in future.

“There is absolute determination against this industrial brutality.

“People have suffered a massive loss to their pay and are determined to keep fighting. The resilience is stunning, they’re a credit to the trade union movement.

“We are speaking with one voice against the tyrannical behaviour of the Tories.”

One Northern Rail guard told Socialist Worker, “During our strikes, managers do our jobs.

“But they’ve only had one day of training—not the three months we get.”

The implementation of DOO is not inevitable.

The Welsh government announced last week that the new train operator in Wales would have to keep the guards on trains.

The guarantee followed a consultation showing that 90 percent of the public supported keeping a second member of staff on trains.

It will take more than a consultation to beat back DOO in England.

The Tories and greedy train bosses are committed to bringing in DOO. But these strikes have every potential to win.

Coordinated action is the way to stop the bosses risking passenger safety for profit.


Tube stoppage could shut down London

London Tube drivers were set to strike for 24 hours on Thursday and bring London to a standstill.

The Aslef union members voted to strike against longer working hours brought in with the Night Tube in 2015.

Aslef’s Tube organiser Finn Brennan said, “Our members’ patience has finally been exhausted.”


Manchester’s bus drivers want a raise

Drivers at First Bus struck on Monday over pay in two Greater Manchester depots.

Almost 700 Unite union members took part in Bolton and Rusholme, affecting some 43 routes.

Workers plan more strikes on the next four Mondays.


Three bus walkouts come along at once in south west

Bus workers have called strikes at Stagecoach depots in south west England on 13, 17 and 30 October.

The 800 RMT union members in Exeter, Torquay and Barnstaple want pay to rise in line with RPI inflation—3.9 percent.

They include drivers, cleaners and engineers.


Train cleaners won’t be treated like dirt

Cleaners on Southeastern trains are set to walk out for 24 hours from 8.30pm on Thursday 19 October. The RMT members are employed by contractor Wettons.

London Underground cleaners are set to protest on Thursday of next week, from 9am at City Hall.


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