by a train driver
RMT traincrew (the vast majority of them senior conductors or guards) at twelve Train Operating Companies have voted for strike action. Strikes will take place on 28 March, 30 March and 17 April.
This is the fourth ballot on the issue of the safety role of the guard since 1995 when changes to the rule book were introduced which virtually wiped out any such role.
The last dispute on this issue fizzled out because the union accepted legal advice saying that traincrew could not go on strike against their employers on this issue because the dispute was not with their employer but with Railtrack. This was at a time of intense media scrutiny of the rail industry in the light of fatal accidents. Rather than using the weight of public opinion over rail safety to help win the dispute, the union gave in to legal opinion.
That might have been the best opportunity to win the dispute. The ballot majority for action is smaller now. Some guards who were around when this first started seven years ago are saying that if we don't win it this time the union won't get a mandate for action next time. The trigger for the dispute this time is that the TOCs in question haven't agreed to support RMT in its submissions to 'Railway Safety' to restore the guards' safety role.