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RMT members picketting Leeds railway station as part of dispute over removal of safety-critical guards on Northern Rail – photo Leeds RMT

On Monday 13th March, members of the RMT on Northern Rail, Southern Rail and Merseyrail took strike action against the removal of safety-critical guards from trains. Below we print a report from the picket lines and a letter sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

About 25 pickets covered 2 entrance’s at Leeds Station, handing out thousands of leaflets to passengers, explaining why on safety grounds they had taken strike action.

Kevin Pattison, Leeds Socialist Party

Many members of the public stopped to offer support. 2 National TV channels were there and union officials took the opportunity to explain how dangerous DOO (driver only operated) trains are without the Guards, who are trained in 35 different areas of safety competency. I offered support from the National Shop Steward Network and an invitation to address Leeds TUC.


Dear editor,

I was somewhat surprised to see that your piece on Mondays strike by RMT members on Northern Rail did not include a quote from the union explaining why they were striking.

What the company euphemistically calls ‘modernisation’ is actually a downgrading of passenger safety by removing safety-critical guards from trains. These changes will hit the most vulnerable passengers, such as those with disabilities, the hardest.
The only thing modern about this is our governments desire to throw the most vulnerable in society under the bus (or train in this case!)
What a travesty it is that our labour council, through its membership of Rail North, effectively co-sponsored these dangerous proposals along with the government.
I hope the strike will bring the authorities to the realisation of the dangers of these proposals and their prompt withdrawal. Until then I’d rather face rail journeys being disrupted by strikes rather than the more substantial disruption caused by accidents happening due to the removal of safety critical guards.
Iain Dalton