RAIL WORKERS at three train operators were “solidly supporting” strike action yesterday over the imposition of driver-only services.
The privateers who run Southern, Merseyrail and Northern trains are attempting to abolish the safety-critical guard’s role to increase profits, but members of the RMT union are resisting the plan with strike action.
Workers formed picket lines outside stations across the country yesterday and all three operators were forced to cancel services.
For Merseyrail staff, it was the second day of a 48-hour stoppage that began on Sunday, while on Southern, RMT were staging their 34th day of strike action since the dispute started more than 16 months ago.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These strikes are about putting passenger safety before private profit, and those that seek to undermine the safety culture on our railways in order to fi ll their own pockets should be called to account and forced back to the negotiating table.
“The resilience and determination of our members in the three separate disputes over passenger safety is right at the forefront again.
“Support remains absolutely solid in all areas as RMT members continue the fight to put safety and access before private profit on Britain’s railways.”
Mr Cash called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to “stop the great British rail rip-off, end the wholesale destruction of our rail safety culture and force his private contractors back to the negotiating table.”
The union’s battle is spreading as more companies seek to remove guards from trains.
RMT members on South Western Railway are to be balloted on strike action, after the new operator of services into and out of London Waterloo station failed to give an assurance that it would not try to impose driver-only operation.
Predictably, the train operators sought to focus on the effect of the strikes, not the cause.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “Train companies are doing all they can to keep passengers moving on the day many students return to school or college and people are going back to work.”