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RAIL workers and disabled activists from across the country held a protest today to defend the role of the guard on the train.
Hundreds of RMT members and their supporters demonstrated outside Parliament to commemorate the second anniversary of industrial action to defend the guard.
The demonstration came as the union announced fresh strikes on Arriva Rail North, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway services in May.
In a packed meeting in the House of Commons, guards and other union members were met by shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald, Labour Party chair Ian Lavery and new Labour MP Dan Carden, among other MPs and railway campaigners.
Mr McDonald congratulated the “defiant stance” of the RMT, telling workers that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is “a very worried man.”
He said: “The government’s stance is totemic. Grayling is running a rail system that does not deliver competition, does not deliver value, and is collapsing.
“It shows what slavish, profit-driven ideology is at work here.
“The guard’s role is not about pushing a button. This is about security. It’s about sex attacks and hate crimes. It’s about accessibility. Railway employers can choose to ignore this at their peril.”
Reminding delegates that the broad opinion of the whole country is behind the guards, he said that this dispute “will not end,” and assured train guards of the support of the Labour Party.
Mr Carden pointed to the real change in the Labour Party about supporting industrial disputes: “Isn’t it incredible that the Labour front bench is addressing this meeting, and backing the RMT wholeheartedly?”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash received a standing ovation, and congratulated workers on continuing the fight for two years.
“Our guards are at the forefront of the campaign to make sure we keep a safe, secure, accessible railway.
“I urge you — keep it up. There is still fuel in the tank, there’s more to come.
“The end result of this battle will be making sure that we keep a second safety-critical person on every train in the country.”
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