Socialist Worker

Rail bosses get a wave of strikes for Christmas

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2585

Virgin West Coast pickets at London Euston on Friday of last week

Virgin West Coast pickets at London Euston on Friday of last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers on five rail networks, taking action in separate disputes, have presented bosses with a wave of strikes around Christmas.

New strikes have also been called for six networks in January.

Arriva Cross Country workers in the RMT union are on strike today, Sunday 24 December. They walked out on Saturday in their third week of strikes over rostering and Sunday working.

The strikes are set to cause huge disruption to the travel network, with some stations running no Cross Country service at all. More action is planned next week.

RMT and TSSA union members on the Virgin West Coast line struck for 24 hours on Friday 15 December, and were offered a deal just a few days later. 

The 1,800 onboard train staff are fighting for an equal pay offer to that made for drivers.

An RMT striker told Socialist Worker that Virgin bosses were “determined to make as much profit as they can”.

The new deal guarantees a 35 hour week, a £500 lump sum and 3.2 percent increase. The unions suspended further planned strikes on 22 December and 5 January for members to vote on it.

RMT members have also struck and announced further action in a long-running campaign to halt the implementation of driver only operation (DOO) and defend the safety-critical role of guards.

Merseyrail workers also struck on 22 December over DOO, with some members of the Aslef drivers' union refusing to cross the RMT picket lines.

The strikes comes just a few weeks after a Merseyrail guard evacuated passengers after a train filled with smoke while in a tunnel.

RMT has argued that such incidents show the importance of having a safety-critical member of staff on board.

The extension of DOO across rail networks is driven by the bosses’ greed and the Tories' support for privatisation and deregulation.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash accused “the dead hand of the minority Tory Government" of "interfering in these disputes.’’

Further strikes against DOO are planned on Greater Anglia on Wednesday 27 December and those on Southwestern on Sunday 31 December.

Workers are then set to strike on Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western and Island line on 8, 10 and 12 January and on Southern on 8 January.

Everyone should support the workers fighting back against the rail bosses out to drive down pay and undermine safety.


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