Socialist Worker

Determined strikes win gains at Northern rail

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2641

Picketing in Carlisle

Picketing in Carlisle (Pic: Craig Johnston)


Striking train guards were celebrating last week after bosses caved in to their demands about safety.

Workers on the Northern rail franchise had taken 47 days of strikes against plans to axe safety-critical train guard roles from trains.

The RMT union said it had secured a guarantee of a conductor on all trains until the end of the franchise.

The union said the guarantee was “supported by the Department for Transport”.

The Tories have been desperate to push through driver-only operation (DOO) trains, despite huge opposition from workers and public.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary said, “Today’s offer of a guarantee of a conductor on all services throughout the duration of the franchise, including the new fleet, is the substantial progress we have been pushing for.”

A planned strike for last Saturday was called off.

David Brown, Northern managing director, said he was looking forward to “talks about what the future role of the conductor looks like”.

Maintaining the guards’ safety-critical role has to be crucial in negotiations.

Bosses want workers to only be responsible for checking tickets and issuing fines—if there is a member of staff there at all.

But workers with correct safety training and responsibilities keep passengers safe and ensure travel networks are accessible for everyone.

Deals have now been reached in Scotland, Wales, Merseyrail and East Anglia. Workers on South Western Railway announced a fresh programme of action last week.

Train guards on the network are set to walk out on 22 February and 9 and 16 March.

Bosses caved in because of the power of the strikes. But workers have to fight back against any further attempts now to attack the roles and responsibilities of their jobs.


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