Socialist Worker

Transport round up: Month of South Western strikes to guard safety

Issue No. 2680

An RMT union protest to defend guards’ jobs last year

An RMT union protest to defend guards’ jobs last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Train guards at South Western Railway (SWR) are gifting 27 days of strikes to train bosses this Christmas.

RMT union members are planning almost a month of industrial action in an escalation of their battle to save jobs and protect safety.

They’ve been fighting for two years against bosses’ plans to roll out large scale driver only operation (DOO) services on SWR.

These DOO services mean that passenger health and safety is the sole responsibility of the driver—a move workers say will put passengers at risk.

It is part of a national fight to guarantee that there is a second safety-critical trained member of staff on all services.

The height of the long-running dispute saw workers from six networks strike together in December 2017.

This action, as well as other walkouts, has now forced concessions from most train company bosses.


Workers in some networks backed off from some previous strikes after bosses agreed to negotiations.

But they renege on promises further down the line.

This time strikers should keep up the action, shut down the service and picket out key stations, including London Waterloo.

Meanwhile, a strike is looming at Virgin West Coast after bosses sacked a worker.

RMT union members at the network are set to stage a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday of next week.

They say that their colleague has been “disgracefully treated” by management and accused bosses of “efforts to mislead, intimidate and harass members.”

Workers have undertaken an overtime ban over the last few weeks.

‘Scandalous’ pay figures come out ahead of action

As cleaners on London Underground prepare to deliver a vote to strike, new figures revealed the pay injustice at the heart of Transport for London (TfL).

Research by their RMT union shows that cleaners would have to work for 20 years to earn a TfL executive’s annual pay packet.

TfL’s highest-paid executive trousers £374,000 in just 12 months.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash called the revelations “scandalous”. “People who do some of the hardest and dirties work on London’s transport network are treated differently to other London Underground staff,” he said.

“The disgrace of the two-tier workforce on London Underground is a stain on the capital city.”

The outsourced cleaners are fighting for decent pay, staff travel rights and pension equality with workers employed directly by TfL.

Meanwhile, RMT union members staged a demonstration in Liverpool last Thursday to demand “justice for cleaners”.

Cleaners on the regional metro are outsourced to Mitie, which refuses to pay them the Living Wage of £9.30 an hour.

Workers say it would cost Merseyrail just 0.004 percent of its profits—and are demanding that they be brought back in-house.

Bournemouth bus ballot

Hundreds of bus workers in Bournemouth could be headed for the picket lines to fight a “campaign of bullying and intimidation”.

Drivers, who are Unite union members, are balloting for action over a “poisonous working environment”.

Driver Martin Conder, was attacked by a passenger, followed procedures and reported the incident to management. But the bosses’ response was to attempt to sack Martin, a well-respected shop steward at the firm.

Martin’s appeal is on 15 November.

The ballot result is due on 21 November.

Dial-a-Strike over low pay

Over 300 Dial-a-Ride workers in London began a strike ballot on Monday after a paltry one percent pay offer.

The Unite union members are employed by Transport for London (TfL) and operate from depots including Woodford, Wimbledon, Wembley and Orpington.

They provide special needs transport to elderly and disabled people. Hundreds of other TfL workers have already voted for strikes.

Unite members in TfL’s Control Centre voted by 89 percent for strikes.

And compliance officers, revenue protection inspectors and roads and transport enforcement officers backed a strike by 88 percent.

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