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Socialist Party members join RMT strikers on the picket line at Leeds train station - photo Naomi Byron

Socialist Party members join RMT strikers on the picket line at Leeds train station – photo Naomi Byron

Fresh from attacking Jeremy Corbyn in the ‘traingate’ saga over the summer, Virgin Trains East Coast is now attacking their staff to maintain their profits.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

As the RMT believe, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) overbid to take over the publicly-run East Coast mainline service last year (after two prior failures of private operators to run the line). Now, losing as much as £1m a week on running the service as a result, VTEC want to make staff pay rather than hit their bottom line.

RMT pickets were out in force at Leeds Train Station, picketing all three major station entrances (and had picketed a fourth on the station’s land until moved on by police). They were joined, as ever, by local Socialist Party members, assisting them in reprinting their leaflet which had been eagerly snapped up by commuters interested to find out what the dispute was about, and unsuprised at Branson’s profiteering antics.

Early morning RMT pickets at Leeds train station - photo courtesy of Sean McGowan, RMT

Early morning RMT pickets at Leeds train station – photo courtesy of Sean McGowan, RMT

The RMT had previously suspended strike action planned for August, for negotiations to take place, but management had offered nothing new. Today, however, the Managing Director had been visiting picket lines, and no doubt is now at least well aware of the anger of staff about these proposals.

Whilst further strike action may be necessary to force management back on these plans, the whole saga shows once again how private companies profit from providing rail services at the expense of staff and commuters.

Jeremy Corbyn was, of course, attacked by Richard Branson for demanding renationalisation of the railways, but this cannot wait until the contract expires, but, as the RMT and the Socialist Party call for, the East Coast mainline services should be renationalised now, alongside the rest of the railways and public transport service, as part of an integrated public transport service run under democratic workers control and management.

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