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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 November 2019

West Midlands Trains: guards strike to defend safety-critical role

RMT picket line joined by Birmingham Socialist Party, 16.11.19

RMT picket line joined by Birmingham Socialist Party, 16.11.19   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Woodcock, RMT union member

On 16 November, senior conductors (guards) at West Midlands Trains took their first day of strike action in defence of their safety-critical role.

In a desperate attempt to end the dispute, management made the RMT transport union reps a last minute offer. They promised to withdraw their original plans to remove key safety responsibilities from the guards' job description and instead only remove the guards' door controls and introduce a new system of drivers operating doors to guards' signals.

However, the reps unanimously rejected this and, respecting the tremendous strike mandate from the members, told the company that the strike is on.

The guards are absolutely determined to win, and can see that any downgrading of safety responsibilities is a dangerous step on a slippery slope towards driver-only operation (DOO), which must be resisted. This was not only demonstrated by the magnificent 89% vote for action, but also the fighting spirit on the picket lines.

Socialist Party members visited pickets at Birmingham New Street, Snow Hill, Coventry, Leamington and Worcester and it was clear that the guards are up for the fight.

In a welcome move, a significant minority of drivers at some depots refused to cross the guards' picket line. This had an immediate impact on the service and scuppered management's plans to have scab guards working the trains.

This is a fantastic show of solidarity and if this were to spread to other depots it would tip the balance of forces very quickly in the guards' favour.

RMT will be striking every Saturday until the end of the year unless the company backs down.

We say:

SWR walkouts in December

Train crews, members of the RMT union on South Western Railway, have also voted to go on strike for 27 days in December in order to stop the private rail operator imposing DOO. More in a future issue.

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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.

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In The Socialist 20 November 2019:


What we think

High Court injunction: solidarity to the CWU

CWU - ground laid for an almighty struggle


Climate change

Major funding for flood risk management needed


NHS

Save the NHS: kick out the Tories

Frimley NHS Trust: Strikers remain determined to defeat privatisation


Violence against women

What policies are needed to end domestic violence and abuse?


Socialist Party news and analysis

Broadband: privatisation has failed to deliver, time for a socialist plan

Bolton university fire: government inaction puts safety at risk

Wages flatline, while shareholders profit


Workplace news and analysis

UCU pay and pension strike: university staff have had enough

West Midlands Trains: guards strike to defend safety-critical role

PCS union: elect Marion Lloyd!

Cleaners strike over low pay at Haringey secondary school

Bradford library and museum strikers enter third round of strike action

Long hours in the world of security

NEU members' sixth-form walkouts


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Secret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed

150 protest against Leicester hospital downgrading attack

Carmarthenshire union demands no-cuts budget

Swansea: students protest against Hillary Clinton hypocrisy

Keep the National Poetry Library free

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


International socialist news and analysis

Amazon bosses defeated in Seattle - Kshama Sawant reelected

Chile revolt continues: read eyewitness report


 

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Related links:

West Midlands:

triangleWest Midlands Socialist Party: Pre-election meeting

triangleJaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader

triangleWest Midlands Socialist Students: What is socialism?

triangleWest Midlands journalists strike against pay and job cuts

triangleWest Midlands Socialist Party: Learning from the Black Panthers - organising, defence & demands

Trains:

triangleDefend the right to strike! Southampton solidarity meeting

triangleCancel the franchise, not our trains

triangleWest Midlands RMT guards jobs saved

triangleSolid support for guards on West Midlands Trains

Strike:

triangleNorwich City Council workers vote for strike action over broken promises on pay and conditions

triangleEaling parking wardens strike against Serco over absence policy

triangleThurrock refuse workers strike escalates

Midlands:

triangleNSSN meeting: NHS workers fighting back

triangleMidlands NSSN: NHS workers fight back

RMT:

triangleRMT: Militant industrial and political strategy must be fought for

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