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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 March 2020

Defend the right to strike! Southampton solidarity meeting

RMT union members demonstrating against Johnson's threat to the right to strike, London 19.12.19, photo JB

RMT union members demonstrating against Johnson's threat to the right to strike, London 19.12.19, photo JB   (Click to enlarge)

Nick Chaffey, Southern Socialist Party regional secretary

RMT transport union guards on South Western Railway (SWR) will be on strike again, 9-10 March and 12-13 March, in their fight to maintain 'safety critical' guards on the railways.

SWR publicly state: "We have guaranteed to keep a guard on every train, but it is vital that we use the most efficient means of dispatch when we introduce our new trains so that we can deliver the improved performance our customers so desperately need." So, with the intention of introducing driver-only operations!

Three years into their franchise, SWR service is woeful. Such is the failure of SWR to deliver an acceptable service, Tory transport minister, Grant Shapps, has announced the possibility of renationalising the franchise. SWR remains an overcrowded, expensive and unreliable service where profits come first, and only 74% of trains arrive on time or less than five minutes late.

All the evidence shows the importance of safety critical trained guards; for their role in dispatching trains, where most serious accidents and fatalities happen; for the safety of passengers from physical and sexual assaults, and for emergencies where trains have to be evacuated due to breakdowns and accidents.

Passengers are overwhelmingly in favour of having guards on the train. However, for SWR the issue is not about safety or service but profits.

If train operating companies (TOCs) were serious about the future of railways and improving their efficiency, they would invest the necessary funds. That is not happening. So the RMT is calling for the permanent renationalisation of the railways to guarantee investment, reduce fares and maintain safety.

The Socialist Party argues that compensation should only be paid on the basis of proven need - the profiteers should get nothing.

As this strike begins, the Tories continue their attacks on the RMT transport union, and are preparing legislation to stop strikes on the railways. An attack, if successful, would almost certainly be carried through across the public and private sector.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 4 March 2020:


Coronavirus

Covid-19: A socialist response to the Coronavirus crisis


International Women's Day 2020

International Women's Day: Fighting sexism and austerity

A legacy of women workers and the class struggle


Workplace news

Uni strikers determined to defeat the bosses

Defend the right to strike! Southampton solidarity meeting

Strike wave around London - this is why we need socialists in city hall

West London parking workers' strike

Charity workers' strike

Electricians pay victory

Anti-academy strikes kick off in Redbridge


Campaigns

Royal Glam A&E: Victory is within our grasp

What will we do if they cut Camden nurseries?

Labour councils miss opportunity to stop Tory cuts

30,000 strike for the climate in Bristol

Why I joined the Socialist Party: I resent the 1% and the system that allows them to exist

Secret cuts meeting couldn't prevent protests in Newham


Socialist Party Congress

Socialist Party Congress 2020: A world in turmoil and weak British capitalism faces working-class anger


International news

India: Bloody pogrom fuelled by Modi's sectarianism


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

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