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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 March 2017

Second front in battle over driver-only operation opens on Northern Rail

RMT protest at parliament - keep the guard on the train! 1.11.16, photo Paula Mitchell

RMT protest at parliament - keep the guard on the train! 1.11.16, photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

A striking Northern Rail RMT member

Northern Rail train guards have voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of strike action against the introduction of driver-only operation (DOO). Our first strike date is 13 March and is planned to coincide with our striking brothers and sisters on Southern and Merseyrail.

There are despicable Labour councillors, in Liverpool of all places, praising DOO as safe. We're going to get the same across all the other big metropolitan cities such as Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

We know where these so-called Labour councillors stand on austerity, so we can expect no support from them on running a safe, accessible railway.

Many of our RMT parliamentary group are northern MPs - the shadow rail minister and shadow transport secretary are MPs on routes that will go DOO. They've told us in private they are against DOO and Jeremy Corbyn said the idea of running trains with just the driver "was a daft idea"!

But when we held an 'Action for Rail' leafleting protest in January over the annual fare increases, all publicity produced by local Labour activists omitted all traces of the RMT. We were even cropped out of all the pictures.

I made a point that this was the first time we had any support from the Labour Party in all the years I've been in the union.

The Socialist Party, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and National Shop Stewards Network have always supported us on demos and picket lines.

The battle against DOO has now opened on a second front and we are determined to win. It's going to be harder to introduce DOO up north as we don't have the rolling stock or infrastructure, but we must show management that we will fight against DOO come what may.

All my colleagues are prepared to stand united in the forthcoming fight to keep the railway safe and accessible for all.

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