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Saturday 25 February 2017

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No Southern Rail on Merseyside - TUSC backs RMT campaign to save train guards

The RMT transport workers' union is stepping up its campaign to save the safety critical role of train guards on Britain's railways, the issue that lies behind the long-running dispute on Southern Rail. But it's not just Southern that is putting railway safety at risk.

The Northern Rail franchise awarded last year to the Arriva train operating company includes plans to switch some routes to Driver Only Operation (DOO). And now the RMT is in dispute with Merseyrail, after its failure to provide assurances about the train guards' role when it introduces new rolling stock on the network.

The RMT general secretary Mick Cash has made the union's position on DOO "perfectly clear" to Merseyrail (RMT press release, 2nd February). "We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train", he said. On March 7th the RMT will be staging a 9-30am protest in Derby Square, Liverpool to take its campaign to the public.

Roger Bannister, former national executive member of the UNISON public services union, and the TUSC Liverpool City Region Metro-Mayor spokesperson, said:

"I intend to support this protest to show my backing for this campaign, and my solidarity with the RMT. Driver only trains will result in a loss of conductor jobs, and an increase in risk to rail passengers.

"Studies indicate that accidents getting on and off trains would increase if there is no conductor on the train, and passengers feel more secure if there is a conductor on board, to deal with problems such as anti-social behaviour, crime and on board accidents of one sort or another".

Labour could stop DOO in its tracks

Roger added that the role of right-wing Labour representatives in this dispute is "disgraceful". The Merseyrail franchise is under the control of the Merseytravel committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority - which in turn is completely controlled by Labour councillors.

They could stop the introduction of Driver Only Operation on Merseyrail tomorrow - striking a powerful blow against the Tories' dangerous plans for the railways not just in Merseyside but across Britain.

But instead, as Roger Bannister says, right-wing Labour councillors "are pushing it through and local Labour MPs are making no comment.

"As TUSC's Metro-Mayor spokesperson I will continue to hold them to account on this.

"I believe Merseyrail, and the wider public transport network, should be returned to full public ownership and run under democratic control including trade unions and the travelling public".