TUC deputy general secretary Paul Novak joined RMT striking Southern rail guards on their morning picket line at London’s Victoria station yesterday.
Novak told News Line: ‘I’m here to show solidarity and support to RMT members on Southern trains. It’s a travesty that neither the employer nor the government will get round the table with the RMT. The best thing for passengers, for Southern trains and for the hard-working staff is for management to sit down and talk to find a sensible solution.
‘We’ve a meeting of the TUC General Council today where (RMT general secretary) Mick Cash will inform us of the situation and we’ll show support and solidarity with the RMT – whatever is wanted by them.’
Mick Cash also joined the picket line. He said: ‘We’re getting a lot of support from the TUC and the trade union movement. We want to make sure that they keep up the campaign for the guard on the train. It’s the government that is driving this dispute. We have to keep safety on our trains.’
Asked if all the unions should take action if striking guards are sacked, Cash replied: ”If members of other unions want to take action because there is an injustice, it’s up to their unions. The unions should follow the wishes of their members.’
RMT NEC member Bob Potts told News Line: ‘The strike has been magnificent, the membership is solid. It’s a difficult campaign because we’re fighting the DfT backed by the government.
‘They are carrying out the McNulty report which was commissioned by the Labour Party to destaff Britain’s railways. The Tory government have picked up the Blair/Brown governments’ plan and run with it. The company are carrying out policies which are unfair and they are using the law to get what they want. The unions should follow the wishes of their members.’
Yesterday afternoon, the TUC said the plan to increase the number of trains without a safety-trained guard on board is reckless and ill-thought through. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Southern should not be gambling with passenger safety. Having a properly trained guard on board is the very least commuters deserve.
‘Southern needs to stop blaming unions for its own failures. Passengers will be at a loss to understand how a company that has been cancelling so many rail services can generate such massive profits and not be held to account by the government.’