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Thursday 21st
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

SHOCKING figures showing a 20 per cent rise in sexual offences on public transport over the last year highlight the essential role played by staff in keeping passengers safe.

Across the country transport bosses have done all they can to cut staffing to the bone, seeking to slash costs and boost profits.

London Mayor Boris Johnson gives public backing to dangerous gimmicks such as driverless trains, ignoring numerous incidents where drivers have prevented potentially lethal collisions following signal failures and other technical errors.

Transport bosses in the capital have provoked strike action through their knuckle-headed insistence on reducing the number of station staff, which will leave rail users unable to access assistance if they need help planning journeys, are taken ill while travelling, have an accident or suffer from mobility problems.

Rail union RMT points out that Northern Rail is planning to axe guards and conductors from trains and move to driver-only operation even while issuing posters telling passengers to approach these staff if they need any help.

British Transport Police argues that the increase in reported sexual offences could be due to more people coming forward because of “high-profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical offences.”

That’s possible, although it seems unlikely to account for such a large increase in people reporting sexual crime on public transport.

What cannot be denied is that people are at far less risk of becoming victims of sexual or other crime if they are travelling on properly staffed trains and through properly staffed stations.

The only reason to keep cutting jobs when the need for them is obvious is the warped logic of the profit motive, leading authorities to prioritise penny-pinching over providing a clean, safe and efficient transport network that everyone feels comfortable using.


NEC results 

CONGRATULATIONS to the four Grassroots Alliance candidates who made it onto Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) yesterday.

Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft, Ken Livingstone and new member Kate Osamor will have their work cut out to fight for what Ms Osamor calls “a proper anti-austerity alternative.”

That alternative is sorely needed. Labour is not likely to dislodge the Tory-Lib Dem cabal driving our public services into the ground if it sticks to the coalition’s spending plans and keeps parroting reactionary poison about welfare and immigration.

Even if it does succeed in scraping a parliamentary majority on an insipid half-programme of Tory-lite soundbites it would be a wasted victory which would do nothing to reverse the terrible damage being done to our society in the name of austerity.

People across Britain are crying out for real change and are sick to death of our democratic choices being overruled by the diktats of big business.

Labour exists to speak for working people and its members know it — hence the solid left-wing victory in this vote.

Ed Miliband must now act on the prompting from his own party and come up with a programme for power that reflects working people’s needs — and our anger at the cosseted minority growing fat at our expense.