19 Days Remaining
RMT general secretary Mick Cash and comrades demonstrating in Manchester

Monday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in Britain

RMT members stand up for a safe and accessible railway

RAIL and Tube workers are to strike this week over plans for driver-only trains on the national network and working conditions on London Underground.

RMT members at Southern, Merseyrail, Northern and Greater Anglia will walk out for 24 hours on Tuesday and Thursday.

Tube drivers are set for a 24-hour strike on Thursday over pay and shift patterns, with substantial disruption to services expected.

RMT says the axing of safety-critical guards on trains puts the profits of private companies — used to subsidise transport services in continental Europe and China — before public safety.

General secretary Mick Cash called the issue a “national scandal.”

RMT has written to Merseyrail’s joint owners Abellio and Serco with what it said were “realistic and fair” proposals to resolve the dispute.

Greater Anglia plans to run a full service and Southern claims its trains will run normally on most routes.  

The Southern dispute over driver-only operation of trains is now in its 18th month, with no sign of the deadlock being broken.

Northern bosses claim they will run half the normal timetable between 7am and 7pm.

The strikes will take place after the Welsh government announced that its new train operator, the Wales & Borders franchise, would retain guards.

Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones acknowledged that on-board staff are a “major asset in delivering a modern and safe railway” and that “positive and constructive discussions” with the unions had taken place.

In public consultations, more than 90 per cent of people said having a second member of staff on trains was either quite important or essential.

On the situation in England, Mr Cash said: “It is disgraceful that we have been unable to get serious and meaningful talks going in any of these disputes and that points clearly to the dead hand of the government driving the faceless railway policy on purely ideological grounds and demanding that their contractors fall in line.”

On the London Underground, members of  train drivers’ union Aslef are in dispute over work-life balance centred on proposals for a four-day, 36-hour working week.

Transport for London said it had met its commitments and been in “constructive” discussions with Aslef, with the help of conciliation service Acas, to try to reach a resolution.

Further talks will be held today.