A RECENT letter from the managing director of Arriva trains shows exactly why workers at the company are continuing their campaign of strike action. The brief note was a response to a heartfelt letter from the wife of a conductor in Hull. She listed the pressures on her husband and the abuse he often faces from passengers, some a result of the chaotic service Arriva runs. For this and his responsibilities for safety on the train his basic salary is just £15,500 a year for working shifts.
Arriva management's reply stated arrogantly that such problems would not be addressed by 'any level of remuneration'. 'It goes to show just how little they care,' said Mark Russell, an RMT union rep on Arriva, on Saturday of last week.
He was speaking on the second day of a 48-hour walkout by guards. That came after retail grades also struck for 48 hours. The strikes were again solid, halting trains across the north of England. Arriva is becoming desperate to end the strikes. In a survey it has tried to get conductors to say they accept the management's line.
But despite pressure from management only 29 percent of people returned the forms, and none of them endorsed Arriva's overall plans. The RMT's strike ballot had a 73 percent turnout, with 94 percent voting to strike.
'We have shown we can stick this out,' says Mark Russell. 'We are now discussing how to up the action. Solid support for the dispute's fund set up by the national union can help us turn up the pressure on management.'
Send donations to Arriva Strike Fund, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JB.