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RMT members protesting against proposed cuts on the Northern & TransPennine frachises

RMT members protesting against proposed cuts on the Northern & TransPennine frachises

Around 20 RMT members and supporters protest outside a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA – formerly Metro) protesting against the plans to introduce driver-only operated trains onto the Northern & TransPennine Express rail franchises.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Bright banners lined the entrance to the building where the authority were meeting, whilst we leafletted passers-by with a new RMT postcard to gain their support. With a PA system going explaining why we were there, and Vuvuzela’s making lots of noise between short speeches, rail worker’s anger about these proposals couldn’t be denied.

The proposals will mean the end of guards on the vast majority of services in the North of England, posing huge safety concerns. Combined with plans to cut station staff and reduce the numbers and opening hours of ticket offices, as well as reduced through-services – this is a recipe for disaster for commuters and rail workers alike.

Craig Johnston, RMT Organiser addresses the protest

Craig Johnston, RMT Organiser addresses the protest

The proposals had been drawn up jointly by the Tory government through the Department for Transport (DfT), but also, shamefully, by Rail North – a shadowy group comprised of predominantly Labour-run authorities in the North of England (including WYCA). For a sniff of power, these Labour authority leaders are trampling on our rail network and rail workers jobs.

3 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) local election candidates joined the protest bringing our solidarity and proving our commitment to supporting workers in action. As one RMT member quipped to me “TUSC aren’t the only party here – it’s just that you’re the only one’s out here with us. Labour are sat inside [making the cuts – ID]”.

I spoke on behalf of the Socialist Party & TUSC pointing out that even Labour’s usual excuse of the cuts being the Tories fault didn’t apply here – no-one had forced them to sign-up to the DfT plans except their own lust for power. Given Labour’s comitment to carrying out Tory attacks, TUSC is standing its widest ever challenge in the May elections, with new candidates coming forward all the time – just this week a local rail worker & RMT member joined the list of TUSC candidates standing in Leeds.