STRIKING guards yesterday accused the Prime Minister of imposing a “blockade” on talks to resolve a series of strikes over driver-only trains.
On-board staff on Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia will down tools for the second day of their latest stint of strike action today.
Members of rail union RMT working on Merseyrail and
Northern also staged a one-day walkout yesterday.
The disputes centre around the expansion of driver-only operation on Britain’s rail network. A number of operators have sought to introduce or expand the practice since a government-commissioned report recommended it as a cost-saving exercise in 2009.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Political and 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.
“Again this morning I am calling on Theresa May and [Transport Secretary] Chris Grayling to call off the centrally imposed blockade on serious talks in these disputes and allow us to get on with genuine negotiations with their contractors.”
Several other operators have already resolved disputes with unions through compromise deals that guarantee guards will retain their operational skills and safety duties.
Mr Cash added: “It’s time for the government to lift the dead hand which is preventing rail companies from negotiating deals like the ones we have successfully struck in Wales and Scotland that guarantee a guard on the trains.
“If it’s good enough for Scotland and Wales, it’s good enough for the rest of Britain.”