FIREFIGHTERS swung behind striking train guards yesterday, warning that removing the safety-critical staff posed a danger to the public.
The Fire Brigades Union pointed out that it is often guards that “provide vital first-hand information to fire crews” when there are emergencies on train lines, as well as ensuring that passengers have been moved to safe areas and are kept calm.
FBU north-west regional secretary Mark Rowe gave his union’s support for Merseyrail and Northern guards, who staged a 24-hour strike on Wednesday.
Guards on Southern, South Western and Greater Anglia continued their “solid” 48-hour walkout yesterday.
Guards’ union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members know what is at stake and are not prepared to abandon the disabled, the vulnerable and women travelling alone to their fate on a railway run solely for profit.
“Social media shows that public support is flooding in as our communities choose to stand by their guards against the financially and politically motivated drive to throw safety-critical staff off our trains.
“There is growing evidence that managers are being paid substantial bonuses to act as bogus guards to try and keep services running regardless of the safety rule book and the threat to public security.”
Mr Rowe pointed out that firefighters had also suffered the money man’s axe, with numbers cut by almost a quarter since 2010.
“Response times have also slowed as a consequence of station closures so the role of the guard in providing that initial assistance is even more important now than ever before.
“Safety should not be the first victim when cutting costs. Firefighters fully support the RMT in their campaign to keep the guards. We would urge the government to listen.”