Following on from the month-long industrial action on South Western Railway which saw around 800 guards and drivers out on strike throughout December, continued management refusal to restart talks without preconditions has obliged the RMT rail union to begin balloting its members for further strikes in February.
The issue remains the same: the failure of management to unambiguously guarantee the continued fully safety-critical role of a guard on every train, including responsibility for securing doors before departure. Not to mention the employer’s last-minute abandoning of the deal that was negotiated with the union a year ago.
This pigheaded approach to industrial relations may have taken encouragement from the government’s plan revealed in the Queen’s speech to develop measures “to provide for minimum levels of service during transport strikes” – in other words, to use the police and courts to trample over the right of workers to withdraw their labour.
The railworkers must not be left to face this fundamental assault on workers’ rights on their own.