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Supporters joined Southern rail striking guards on the picket line outside Victoria Station yesterday. ‘All the rail unions should take action together’ – Steve Hedley
TRAIN drivers and guards were on strike in three parts of the country simultaneously yesterday, with Southern, Northern and Merseyside RMT drivers and guards out together against the removal of the guards from the train.

The reduced time table that Merseyside attempted to impose collapsed as other drivers refused to cross the picket line. Southern drivers and guards were out in force with RMT general secretary Mick Cash declaring: ‘RMT Southern action has held firm for nearly a year, despite a campaign of intimidation from GTR. In the teeth of a relentless campaign of spin and intimidation from Southern Rail the RMT guards’ and drivers’ action continues to hold firm in the fight for rail safety nearly a year on.’

On the picket line outside Victoria Station in central London, RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley told News Line: ‘The strike is going well. It’s well-supported everywhere. On the anniversary of the miners’ strike we’re seeing another attempt by a Tory government to smash a trade union. We are angry at the treachery of some trade union leaders who are not supporting us. All the rail unions should take action together. And if the TUC can’t help, they should keep their nose out of it.’

The RMT Northern Rail action was ‘absolutely rock solid’ Cash said. He added: ‘RMT’s action on Arriva Rail North is absolutely rock solid and determined as our members fight for passenger safety and the retention of the guard on the Northern Rail services. Our pickets were out across the franchise and the response has been fantastic. Arriva Rail North should listen to their staff, listen to the public and recognise that there is no case whatsoever for axing the guard from their trains.’

Sean McGovern RMT rep speaking on the picket line at Leeds Station said that it is the Tory government who is behind the intransigence of the management. He explained: ‘Arriva Rail North point blank won’t compromise with us. The only credit I can give Arriva North is that they are the first train operating company to actually come to us from day one and say, “hands up, nothing to do with us gov, go and speak to the Department of Transport who have told us complicitly we cannot negotiate with the extent to keeping a second safety critical person on board our services.”

‘We are taking this action today because of the travelling public, yes they are frustrated and we share their frustration. Well their frustration is aimed at our government for allowing foreign states to own our rail network and to reap maximum amounts of profits at the expense of safety and jobs out of it. They are fully in support of our action today.’


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