30 September 2015
RMT Press Office
RMT union protestors, fighting plans to axe jobs, services and safety on rail services across the North, will be joining the major demonstration at the Tory Party conference in Manchester this Sunday.
The union fight will be building support for the campaign to shine a light on the shadowy “Rail North” and will be exposing the lies and hype around George Osbornes “Northern Powerhouse” claims.
Britain’s largest rail union has said that the promises of a Northern Power House, set to be a major theme of the Tory Party Conference, has become a sick joke with thousands of skilled rail jobs and passenger safety under threat in the North.
Following the cancellation of rail electrification plans in the North, the union had said that the latest threat to jobs comes in proposals for the new Northern and Transpennine Express rail franchises due to start on 1st April. The franchises will be jointly managed by a new body “Rail North” - chaired by Sir Richard Leese - and comprising of representatives of 29 northern councils / combined authorities and the Department for Transport.
In a letter to Rail North Councillors the union has warned train guards will be axed from rail services across the north resulting in “Driver Only Trains.” The letter states,
“at the moment railway regulations guarantee that passenger’s in the North always have a Guard / Conductor on their train. In addition to the driver, passengers know there will always be a highly trained Guard to protect the safe operation of the train and deal with emergencies, such as fire, derailments and driver incapacity. The Guard also provides general assurance to passengers, ticket and travel advice and revenue protection.” Astonishingly the proposed rail franchise agreements mean passengers will no longer have this protection.”
The union also warns that there is no guarantee that current ticket offices and station staffing will be retained on the new franchise.
Over 12,000 passengers have already written to protest against the cuts and in polling three quarters have expressed concern about safety on trains if guards are removed. In the letter the Union has called on Rail North Councillors to also oppose the cuts warning
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“According to Rail North’s own estimates passenger demand for the North’s railway will soar by 50% over the next fifteen years. This will also mean a huge increase in revenues which should be used to take on more, much needed rail staff, not cut them.
“Rail North also needs to speak out against the Region being last in the queue for decent rail services, new rolling stock and electrification. Good, modern communication links are essential for passengers, the economy of the North and our local Communities. Councillors should also be supporting the opening of new routes and opposing the government’s proposals to scrap the Transpennine Express services from Windermere, Barrow-in-Furness and Blackpool North.”
“ The union will be joining with thousands of other protestors at the Tory Party conference to send out the message that it is not only passenger safety and services that will be affected by the Rail North carve-up, so will our economy and communities. Thousands of decent rail jobs will be under threat, deskilled and casualised. Cuts to rail jobs are always a false economy and make a nonsense of the Government’s hot air about a “Northern Power House.” We will be there right on their doorstep on Sunday.”
The full list of RMT Regional “Rail North” campaigning events is as follows:
*SUNDAY 4th OCTOBER 2015 – MANCHESTER – NATIONAL TUC DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE TORIES – Assemble 12 noon, Oxford Road (ALL SAINTS PARK) Manchester – Rally and March
*TUESDAY 6th OCTOBER 2015 – RAIL NORTH LOCAL AUTHORITIES MEETING – (TIME AND VENUE TO BE CONFIRMED LATER)
*WEDNESDAY 7th OCTOBER 2015 – SHEFFIELD CITY REGION
Protest outside the Sheffield City Region Meeting, SHEFFIELD TOWN HALL, Pinstone Street, Sheffield – 1pm – Meet at the front of the Town Hall
*THURSDAY 8th OCTOBER 2015 – CITY OF YORK COUNCIL
Protest outside of the City of York Council Meeting – the Guildhall, YORK – 5.30 pm – Meet at the front of the Guildhall.
*FRIDAY 9th OCTOBER 2015 – WEST YORKSHIRE COMBINED AUTHORITY TRANSPORT COMMITTEE
Protest outside the West Yorks combined authority transport committee meeting – Wellington House, Leeds City Centre – Meet Outside of Wellington House at 10am
*FRIDAY 16th OCTOBER 2015 – LIVERPOOL CITY REGION
Protest outside of the meeting of the LIVERPOOL CITY REGION – Town Hall, High Street, LIVERPOOL – 4pm – Meet outside then Town Hall
*THURSDAY 22nd OCTOBER 2015 – LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL PRESTON
Protest outside Lancashire County Council meeting – Meet 12.30 pm outside County Hall Preston
*MONDAY 2nd NOVEMBER 2015 – NATIONAL TUC DEMONSTRATION AGAINST TORY ANTI-TRADE UNION LAWS - LONDON – 11.30 a.m. Westminster Central Hall, London – followed by lobby of MP’s
*THURSDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 2015 – CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING – Kendal, Cumbria
Protest outside the meeting of Cumbria County Council, Council Headquarters, Kendal, LA9 4RQ at 9.00 am
*TUESDAY 17th NOVEMBER 2015 – NORTH EAST COMBINED AUTHORITY – (time and venue to be confirmed)
*THURSDAY 19th NOVEMBER 2015 – DARLINGTON BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING
Protest outside of Darlington Borough Council - meet outside Darlington Council offices at 5.00 pm
*FRIDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 2015 – WEST YORKSHIRE COMBINED AUTHORITY – LEEDS
Protest outside the meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority – 10.00 am. – Meet outside Wellington House, Leeds City Centre, Leeds