Bosses told to make preparations for 10 days of action as they push through cuts
RAIL privateers were outed yesterday for preparing against a hypothetical 10 days of industrial action to push their cuts-obsessed drive, which includes axing guards and the introduction of driver-only trains.
But the bosses’ plans met a barrage of resistance at the annual conference of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) in Newcastle.
Delegates agreed that the conference had to be “the stepping stone of resistance” against driver-only operations and demanded a “full-blown dispute” if train operators did not drop the plans.
One delegate said that so far 30 per cent of trains are already driver only.
And delegate Stewart Holt, a train guard for 30 years at Merseyrail, said: “We are getting picked off one by one.”
Delegate John Stewart from Leeds said: “This is upon us now. They are even putting it in the franchises now.”
Paul Shannon from London Transport said that London Underground bosses were going even further by introducing driverless trains.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash revealed that train operators were planning for up to 10 days’ strike action — with widespread disruption for passengers — to force through driver-only operations and the removal of safety-critical guards.
Mr Cash said a report by the Rail Safety Standards Board, which is funded by train operating companies, is advising bosses to plan for 10 days of industrial action against the plans.
And he pointed out that while the plan would boost profits, the unquantified effects on safety could have “potentially fatal consequences.”
“This report shows that the train companies and their cheerleaders are preparing to cause chaos and shut down the railways for days on end in a desperate and profit-led gamble on driver only operation,” he said.
“RMT is currently balloting on First Great Western over a fight to retain the safety-critical guards and that battle is alive and kicking across the train operating companies.
“It is extraordinary that on the one hand the train companies are taking the axe to the guards but behind the scenes they are admitting there has been no safety analysis, that the plans could prove fatal and would open the door to mass fare evasion. Our fight on this crucial issue goes on.”