Union claims strike is “rock solid” across Scotland
THE TRANSPORT workers union RMT has accused Scotrail of playing “fast and loose” with the safety of train passengers, on the second day of national strike action over fears of an extension of Driver Only Operated (DOO) trains.
The ongoing industrial action by train guards comes amid mounting suspicions that Scotrail, which is owned by Dutch firm Abellio, is planning to extend the use of DOO trains, which the union claims would reduce safety procedures carried out by guards.
Speaking to CommonSpace at a picket in Glasgow, RMT regional organiser Craig Johnson said: “Their intentions are to play fast and loose with railway safety in Scotrail and extend driver only services across the whole of the combine eventually, with major changes imminent.”
Fears were triggered when a leaked Scotrail document in March alleged the company wanted to reduce guard duties on trains and have them taken up by drivers.
The union believes those fears have been confirmed by a second leak in June, which they say shows that weakening the union is a key factor in extending DOO.
“Guards are a second safety device on trains, and Scotrail are proposing to remove them.” Craig Johnson, RMT
Johnson said: “The last thing we want to do is inconvenience passengers or damage the economy of Scotland.
“But there’s nothing else we can do when we are facing and arrogant, intransigent and belligerent management like the one we are facing with Scotrail.”
The union is holding pickets across Scotland, which saw train services reduced by at least 30 per cent on the first day of strike action on Tuesday. Members have been spreading the message that the strike is taking place to protect train safety.
Johnson said: “At the moment guards are trained for evacuations, to deal with fires on trains, signal insistence, track layout and training is strict with a bi-annual rules examination.
“All these skills will be lost. It isn’t just about opening doors, though that is important, it’s about all those other skills guards have to have. They are a second safety device on trains, and Scotrail are proposing to remove them.”
Johnson also claimed that the strike was being fully observed by members.
“The strike is rock solid across all locations, I don’t know of any member, across any location, who has gone in yet. It is an indication of our member’s determination to win this particular dispute,” he said.
“We are always prepared to negotiate and to talk, but we can’t compromise when it comes to railway safety,” he added.
“The strike is rock solid across all locations, I don’t know of any member, across any location who has gone in yet.” Craig Johnson RMT
A Scotrail spokesperson claimed the company was successfully managing the strike.
She said: “During Tuesday’s strike action we did everything possible to keep people on the move. The vast majority of rail services ran as planned, allowing us to carry 72 percent of our normal passenger load. And in some areas where we could not run trains, a successful bus replacement operation was delivered.”
“Our door continues to be open to the RMT. We ask that they call off this action as we are more than willing to get back round the table and start meaningful discussions about how we continue to modernise and improve our railway,” she added.
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