TUSC backs RMT Save the Guards campaign, while local Labour party blocks debate
The RMT transport workers' union has made a direct appeal to Steve Rotheram MP, the Labour candidate in the Liverpool City Region 'Metro-Mayor' contest, to guarantee that there will be a second safety-critical crew member aboard every Merseyrail train if he wins the election on May 4th.
Pointing out that "the travelling public are behind our campaign" Mick Cash, the RMT general secretary, said that "now is the ideal moment for Steve to say he is with the disabled passengers, the women travelling alone, the elderly, the young - in fact all sections of the community that use the rail network, who overwhelmingly want a guard on every train" (RMT Press Release, 12th April).
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Metro-Mayor candidate Roger Bannister, a former member of the UNISON national executive council, today welcomed the RMT's call. "Merseyside TUSC has been pursuing Steve Rotheram ever since he was selected as Labour's candidate last Autumn to find out where he stood on the RMT's Save Our Guards campaign", Roger said. "Now, with just three weeks to go to polling day, as the RMT puts it, he really must say which side he is on".
A vital issue of public safety
"The dispute with Merseyrail over the plan to get rid of guards on trains and introduce Driver Only Operation (DOO) on the new stock that will come into service during the Metro-Mayor's first term of office is one of the most important issues in May's election.
"The Merseyrail franchise is under the control of the Merseytravel committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which is composed exclusively of right-wing Labour councillors.
"As RMT general secretary Mick Cash has said, Steve Rotheram has the opportunity to show that he is 'on the side of Merseyside's traveling public, and not on the side of Merseyrail's Dutch-owned private operator or the Tory ministers in the Department of Transport who see profit as more important than people'."
Roger continues: "The truth is that Liverpool Labour could stop the introduction of Driver Only Operation on Merseyrail now, striking a blow against the Tories' dangerous plans for safety on the railways not just in Merseyside but across Britain.
"But instead they are pushing it through and Steve Rotheram has still not said where he stands".
Labour right-wing block discussion
Meanwhile a recent meeting of the Garston & Halewood Constituency Labour Party in the Liverpool city region was blocked from voting on a resolution that supported the RMT's Save Our Guards campaign.
The meeting on March 31st heard from an RMT official about the importance of guards to passenger safety but according to social media reports, when it came to agreeing a resolution of support, the chair ruled it was "against Labour policy and might damage Steve Rotheram's campaign"!
Roger concludes: "Saving the guards is a vital issue in its own right but it is also deeply symptomatic. If Steve Rotheram won't stand up to the Tories - and right-wing Labour - on such a clear question of putting public safety ahead of private profit, on what issue would he stand up to them?"
A powerful first preference vote for TUSC on May 4th, by contrast, would send an unmistakable message - no cuts, no austerity, put people before profit.
Come to the TUSC pre-election public meeting on Tuesday 2 May, starting at 7-30pm, at the Liverpool Pub, 14 James Street, Liverpool L2 7PQ.
For more information contact [email protected] or check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rogerbannisterformayor/