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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2017

2,000 workers on three rail networks strike against driver-only operated trains

RMT picket line in Glasgow, photo Socialist Party Scotland

RMT picket line in Glasgow, photo Socialist Party Scotland   (Click to enlarge)

Over 2,000 workers across three rail networks took strike action on 13 March against driver-only operated (DOO) trains. The long-running dispute against the removal of guards on Southern Rail has spread to Northern Rail and Merseyrail.

Martin Zee, a Merseyrail train guard, is currently in court on trumped up charges facing a possible prison sentence, provoking the action there. Merseyrail itself intends to switch to DOO, as does Northern Rail.

Socialist Party members visited picket lines at Victoria station in London (Southern Rail), Liverpool and across the Northern Rail network.

The Northern Rail strike at Newcastle station was strong and in excellent spirits, reports South Tyne and Wear Socialist Party member Mick Joyce, with 25 pickets there.

"Absolutely solid"

There was much public support from passers-by and a visit from television cameras. RMT Newcastle steward Mick Robinson said the strike was "absolutely solid" in the North East with no evidence of scabbing. Mick went on to add that the strike was "about placing the safety of the public before profit".

The police had earlier "visited the line in an effort to apply the new legislation following the Tories' (anti) trade union bill", however the strike committee was well prepared as all steps had been taken.

Three bought copies of the Socialist and offered solidarity to the Socialist Party and to members Mick represents in the lift and escalator industry.

Greg Price visited the Manchester Piccadilly picket line to show solidarity. A group of 15 to 20 strikers handed out leaflets telling it as it is.

Northern Rail wants to boost profits and compromise passenger safety by ending the guarantee of a guard on every train. The majority of the rail customers were sympathetic and took leaflets and asked questions.

"Fight back"

One striker said: "If we don't fight back the company will get rid of hundreds of guards and walk all over the remaining employees! We say no to DOO!"

In Leeds about 25 pickets covered the two entrances at Leeds Station, handing out thousands of leaflets to passengers, explaining why, on safety grounds, they had taken strike action.

Many members of the public stopped to offer support. Two national TV channels were there and union officials took the opportunity to explain how dangerous DOO trains are without the guards, who are trained in 35 different areas of safety competency.

Socialist Party member Kevin Pattison offered support from the National Shop Stewards Network and an invitation to address Leeds Trade Union Council.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 15 March 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Scotland 'indyref2' for socialist independence not the capitalist EU

State surveillance of unions: PCS assistant head demands inquiry

TUSC: SWP suspends participation in England/Wales


Save our NHS!

NHS: strikes and protests can stop cuts

Glenfield heart unit: "Children will die" angry parents tell NHS England


Socialist Party congress 2017

Socialist Party Congress 2017 reports


Socialist Party workplace news

2,000 workers on three rail networks strike against driver-only operated trains

Derby teaching assistants' all-out strike against Labour council

Unison HE conference: Delegates give the bureaucracy a lesson in democracy


Fighting racism

Fight racism and austerity


International Women's Day

International Women's Day: taking action against capitalist oppression


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Disabled workers deserve a living wage

'Nurses are angry and we are ready for action'

Women's struggles reduced to perfume sales and career ladder


 

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