In a series of strikes over the Christmas and new year period hitting Arriva Cross Country rail services all the way between Penzance and Aberdeen, RMT guards challenged Arriva management’s abuse of rostering, Sunday working and compulsory overtime.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash, pointing to management bad faith in talks, suggested: “If the company spent more time working with us for a solution instead of focussing on dishing out cash bungs to a dangerous scab army of undercooked management recruits to try and break the action we could move this dispute forwards.” (48 hours strike action goes ahead on Arriva Cross Country, RMT Press Office, 8 December 2017)
Striking while the iron was hot, party comrades in the Midlands produced a leaflet to support the strikers.
Driver only operation
With the barely hidden hand of transport minister Chris Grayling pulling the strings, train operating companies (TOCs) in England continue to refuse negotiations with the guard’s union RMT unless the union is prepared to open the door to the extension of driver only operation (DOO) and the loss of the guaranteed second safety-critical position on board.
The government’s aim in backing the pig-headed position of the companies involved appears to be to roll out the unsafe (but cheap and lucrative) DOO model nationwide, and to seize the opportunity to punish the RMT for their creditable history of militancy.
TOCs in Wales and Scotland have bucked the trend, signing deals with the RMT, but half a dozen companies in England seem ready to act as the government’s battering ram to try and break the union’s resistance.
The RMT continues to lead the resistance, sadly left to fight on alone after a shameful separate peace on the DOO issue was signed off on by the drivers’ union Aslef. RMT members on Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railways and Island Line were called out on strike on 8, 10 and 12 January, whilst members on Southern were called out on the 8th.