RAIL WORKERS' action over pay has spread to include three rail companies - First North Western, Arriva Trains Northern and Arriva Trains Merseyside - all in the north of England.
Drivers on First North Western (FNW), which runs many local services out of Manchester, struck for 48 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. That was after management reneged on a deal which had settled the dispute. Talks on nine productivity measures were ongoing when unions called action off after securing a deal worth 19 percent over three years.
Then FNW announced 25 productivity demands, including making drivers pick up litter at train stations when on their way to and from work. 'People are incensed,' one FNW driver told Socialist Worker. 'It seems like a calculated insult.'
Management's arrogant stand has ensured further 48-hour strikes just as RMT union members on Arriva Trains Northern prepare for a 24-hour strike next week in their long-running dispute over pay. And drivers in the Aslef union on sister company Arriva Trains Merseyside (ATM) delivered an overwhelming 96.2 percent vote last week for strikes.
The first 48-hour strike is due on 27 and 28 August. ATM drivers are already among the lowest paid in Britain, yet management offered them a derisory 3.5 percent in a two-year deal. The three disputes provide rail unions with the opportunity to coordinate action.
That can give a taste of the national coordinated action needed to force all the train operating companies and the government to accept national bargaining, pay and conditions. It certainly should be used to boost workers on Arriva Trains Northern who are battling on against an aggressive management.