The Socialist 7 November 2018 |
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Arriva Rail North strike hits 34 days of action against driver-only operation
Striking Arriva Rail North guard
1,300 train guards across the north of England took their 34th day of strike action in defence of a safe, secure and accessible railway on 3 November.
Despite Arriva Rail North management claiming to have run 800 trains, the sustained action every Saturday has seen a shambolic low of 182 and an average of 250 services running. Last services of the day between major northern cities have been as early as 3.30pm.
After 34 days of action the members have remained absolutely solid! Many depots have had no staff crossing picket lines and a pathetic 0.3% of non-members have been working on strike days.
Management have become increasingly desperate, with efforts to cajole members of office staff and those on administration grades to act as a "person utilised as guard" or Pug. Indeed these staff - who have been rushed through a condensed nine-day training programme, when it can take up to six months to qualify as a guard - have made many serious safety-related mistakes.
The strikes take a continuing toll on Arriva Rail North and its parent company the German state-owned Deutsche Bahn. The taxpayer subsidy has soared to £282 million, with the company now locked in crisis talks with the Department for Transport and demanding an even bigger public bail-out.
Managers are being put up in fancy hotels and flown in from around the Arriva empire while underhand tactics like refusing to grant leave and not releasing reps for union duties only make the members more determined.
A series of public meetings is being organised with trade unionists and supportive Labour MPs as guest speakers. Despite it being Labour Party policy to halt the roll out of driver-only operation, local Labour politicians have maintained a deafening silence.
We call on the wider trade union movement to increase its support for the strikes by attending picket lines and raising money for the hardship fund. We are in a position of strength and determined to fight for a safe, secure, accessible and publicly owned railway, run in the interests of the passengers not the fat cats.
Leeds public back rail guards' strike in 'ballot'
Socialist Students and the Socialist Party held a mock ballot at the RMT's picket line at Leeds station on 3 November, which showed public support for striking workers on Arriva Rail North.
Lots of people were keen to get involved and show their support for the striking workers in their struggle against driver-only operation. We had ballot papers asking for Yes or No votes to the question "should we keep a fully safety-trained guard on Arriva Rail North services?" Our ballot box soon filled up - the final vote was a unanimous: Yes, with 115 votes!
Many people told us about the help they have had from guards in the past, or about friends and family who rely on assistance.
This was the 34th day of strike action for Arriva Rail North staff and picket line morale remains high as they struggle for public safety. A calendar of further dates is in place through November and December. We'll continue to show our support and publicise the campaign.
Robert Hooper, Leeds Socialist Party
Socialists support striking Carlisle rail guards
Cut Fares - Not Staff! Carlisle Socialist Party members join RMT and Carlisle Trades Council members outside Carlisle Citadel station on Tuesday 2nd January 2018, photo Craig Johnston (Click to enlarge)
Members of the Socialist Party in Carlisle presented a petition to striking Arriva Rail North guards in support of their fight to keep a guard on the train. This was part of a protest on 3 November by passengers against the company's attempt to scrap the guards.
900 people have signed our petition which also calls the privatisation chaos to be stopped by renationalising the railways.
Passenger Jutta Timmermann said: "Women don't feel safe on some train routes without the presence of a guard, so it's irresponsible of the private train companies to leave us unprotected just to cut costs and make more money."
The Socialist Party will continue to support the RMT until the guards win.
Carlisle Socialist Party