Socialist Worker

Strike to derail bosses’ plans to scrap guards

Issue No. 2619

Northern Rail guards on strike in Newcastle last week

Northern Rail guards on strike in Newcastle last week (Pic: RMT Newcastle Rail & Catering Branch)


Workers on Northern Rail struck last Saturday as part of the long-running battle to keep guards on trains.

It marked the first of six days that will see the RMT union members strike every Saturday until the end of September.

The workers are fighting the Tories’ and bosses’ plans to roll out driver only operation (DOO) trains on more trains across Britain.

South Western Railway workers are also preparing for action over DOO.

They were set to strike this Sunday 2 September, and will also walk out 8 and 15 September. DOO means that there isn’t always a second safety-critical, trained member of staff on board the train. This will undermine passenger safety and make train travel inaccessible for people with disabilities who are assisted by guards.

The RMT accused bosses of “stringing its negotiators along rather than looking seriously for a settlement”.

And the union said bosses “refused point blank” to engage in serious talks.

Bosses won’t sign up to contracts that guarantee the principle of a safety-trained guard on every train.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the dispute was “a battle to put public safety before private profit”.

“Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board,” he said.

“That would wreck both safety and access to services. They should pull back from that plan immediately”, he said. Coordinating the fights against DOO can push back the bosses’ plans.


RMT union members held a solid strike at Ruislip Tube depot in west London last week as part of their long?running fight over pay.

The train maintenance workers and stores staff struck for 48 hours from 7am last Wednesday and for a further 48 hours from 7pm last Friday.

The workers are responsible for London Underground’s fleet of engineering trains.

The action coincided with a major programme of planning works over the bank holiday weekend—some of which would normally use engineering vehicles from Ruislip.


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