Southern guards remain rock solid

Southern rail picket line at Victoria Station yesterday morning
Southern rail picket line at Victoria Station yesterday morning

‘RMT guards on Southern Rail remain rock solid and absolutely determined in their action in defence of rail safety,’ General Secretary Mick Cash said during their 24-hour-strike which ended at midnight last night. He added: ‘Their resilience is a credit to the entire trade union movement.’

On the picket line outside Victoria Station yesterday morning RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley told News Line: ‘We’re still continuing our struggle. There’s a good spirit on the picket line.’

Referring to negotiations between ASLEF and Abellio UK HR Director Andy Meadows, Hedley added: ‘We’re still not invited to talks at the TUC. It’s unprecedented that the TUC should organise such a meeting without ensuring that we had a seat at the table. There is no movement from the company but we will continue fighting.

‘We need the support of all trade unions on the railway as there can be no compromise on public safety. All unions need to take action. We need a general strike to defend the NHS and all public services.’

Today, Tory Chris Philp MP introduces his proposed Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill, using the 10-minute rule motion device which allows MPs to propose their own laws. If passed, rail workers would be banned from striking if it ‘interrupts people’s right to get to work.’ Such a law would attack workers’ fundamental right to strike.

Philp claimed trade unions had ‘abused’ their right to strike by undertaking ‘completely unreasonable’ industrial action as part of an ongoing dispute with Southern rail.

Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trade Union Alliance (ATUA) said yesterday: ‘Such a move would undoubtedly provoke mass actions of workers throughout Britain. The only way to defend the right to strike is to strike. If this latest attempt to ban the right to strike becomes law, the TUC must immediately call the entire working class out on strike to bring this government down.’

Meanwhile damning new figures reveal at least six times more Southern services are travelling without a second member of staff than promised by Southern. Information provided to RMT by passengers and rail workers has revealed that at least six times as many rail services on Southern, where Driver Only Trains have been introduced, have been travelling without an On Board Service Supervisor (OBS) than promised by Southern.

In previous correspondence to MPs Southern said they anticipated that 0.06% of trains would run without an OBS, the equivalent to one service every two days. But information provided for the five days alone (9, 12, 14, 15, 18 January) has found that fifteen services travelled without an OBS.