RMT guards on Merseyrail, Northern, Greater Anglia, South Western and Southern Train Operating Companies struck on 8, 10, and 12 January, as the fight against Driver Only Operation escalates.
Guards on Northern were very solid again, and Merseyrail workers kept up their usual high standard of solidarity with the vast majority of guards supporting the strike, as well as almost all drivers, who are members of Aslef. Elsewhere the support seems to have been patchier, for example on South Western where the urban depots are solid but the outlying depots are reportedly less so.
An important factor in maintaining the strength of support was RMT’s decision to make a £200 payment to every striking guard on completion of the action. This will go most of the way to wiping out the losses of pay for the two days’ action that will affect most guards (by striking on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the union ensured that all guards on a standard shift rotation will have to strike for only two out of the three days).
Other than on Merseyrail, Aslef drivers are almost all crossing RMT picket lines. It would likely be a decisive factor if this changed, and there has been some progress on the west side of Northern, with some Aslef members turning back at the picket lines at Wigan and Liverpool Lime Street. Shamefully at Wigan, it appears that Aslef reps reacted to this by actively persuading their members to cross the line later in the week, effectively colluding with the company to break the strike.
Support for these disputes is finally picking up in the wider movement, and there is now a solidarity fund for the Merseyrail traincrew — bank details included below. This is a good start, if a bit late.
It is vital that this is built on to keep the disputes going until they can be won.
• Merseyrail Solidarity Fund: Unity Trust Bank 60-83-01, account number 20388537