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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

RMT in strike action threats over removal of train guards

Having worked and lived in the London area for 15 years I thought I had seen the end of rail companies removing the guards from trains and the subsequent strikes and misery these short sighted decisions brought.

Now, I do not want anyone thinking that I sympathise with Bob Crow the leader of the RMT, because I do not, that man has brought so much misery to the commuters of London over the years that I cannot say his name without spitting and getting extremely angry.

However, this is one issue where I fully agree with the unions, although I don't agree with their choice of striking to solve the problem, that will just wind up commuters and travellers and not gain public sympathy.

The trains in Scotland are some of the cleanest and safest I have travelled on in the last twenty years, when I first moved to London after moving from Torquay trains had guards, trains were clean and trains also had fire extinguishers.

The removal of guards led to trains becoming more dirty as people just left their rubbish all over, vanadalism became more frequent, then fire extinguishers were removed and the main reason cited was vandalism.

I was on a late night train home from London Charing Cross to Dartford a few years back when stupid thugs set fire to a chair on a train, and myself and one other passenger had to attempt to put the fire out by stamping on the seat because the extinguishers had been removed while evacuating passengers into other carriages, because there was no guard to assist.

So Scotrail staff are rightly concerned about First ScotRail's plans to run trains without guards on the new Airdrie-Bathgate route, which is used by services travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A Scotrail spokesman is quoted in The Edinburgh Evening News as saying: "No one is losing their job and current terms and conditions are guaranteed. But the scheduled reopening of the £300m link is now at risk by a union campaign which boils down to who opens and shuts doors on trains."

There is a similar quote on the front page of the Scotrail website: "RMT has voted to strike over who opens and closes train doors on a new rail line."

These quotes are not helpful in any way, as the guard does a lot more than opening and shutting the doors and if that is the attitude of First Scotrail then it shows how little their media team knows about the train operation.

Striking isn't helpful and especially on the day of a major six nations rugby match, that will not help the cause of the staff trying to get the public behind them, they should re-consider their action and get round the table once again and thrash this out, and First Scotrail, perhaps you should ask your customers what they want and stop penny pinching, thats what got your colleagues down south into so much hot water.

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