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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 June 2018

Northern Rail strike reaches 21 days of action to save guards

Northern Rail workers striking to save the guard, 19.6.18, photo by Elaine Brunskill

Northern Rail workers striking to save the guard, 19.6.18, photo by Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Elaine Brunskill, Northern Socialist Party

Northern Rail workers in transport union RMT took their 21st day of strike action on 19 June. Train bosses want to implement 'driver-only operation' (DOO) - removing the safety-critical role of guards.

One of the pickets explained: "We're taking three days of action this week. Our members are wanting to up the ante. Already the Northern franchise has been on the back foot with the disarray with the timetable fiasco - whole routes have had to be withdrawn.

"This has led to questions being asked in parliament - so Northern are already under pressure. Unfortunately, [the leadership of drivers' union] Aslef have done an underhand deal, behind the scenes, which has saved Chris Grayling's job."

"On the DOO dispute the various rail companies are at different stages. Mersey Rail and South Western are in talks with [conciliation service] Acas. Greater Anglia have come to a deal which retains the guard. The only franchise where no progress is being made is Northern.

"The RMT is calling for tri-party talks between themselves, Northern and the Department for Transport. The company haven't met with the RMT for over six months now!

"The RMT have managed to negotiate deals in Wales, Scotland and potentially Greater Anglia. So why haven't we managed to get a deal with Northern?

"It's because they are determined in their attempt to bring in DOO, which would mean half a million trains a year across the north would be running with no onboard staff, which would threaten passenger safety.

"We are getting increasing support from Labour MPs. However, Labour councillors on the Transport for the North board need to understand the concerns of the travelling public, who are overwhelmingly supporting the RMT.

"Our members are determined to win. Keep the guards on the trains!"

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