UK rail workers speak out ahead of national strike

World Socialist Web Site reporters have been speaking to rail workers across the country ahead of next week’s planned national rail strike, distributing the article, “UK rail strikes announced: workers demand action in ‘summer of discontent’”.

A platform worker at a UK rail station. (WSWS Media)


Our reporters spoke with drivers at Sheffield station working for Northern Rail. On March 1, 2020, the private operator Arriva was stripped of the franchise it was due to run until 2025, with the government’s Operator of Last Resort taking control. The franchise had become a byword for train cancellations and delays, causing it to be dubbed “Northern Fail”.

A driver said, “This is a massively important strike. Everything is under attack: jobs, wages, terms and conditions.

“We worked throughout the pandemic and now, following the country coming out of the lockdown, to be told we will have no pay rise with this cost of living crisis, and that we are losing jobs, is a disgrace. This feels like another nail in the coffin.

“It would not surprise me if Arriva never even handed back the £9 billion it got for the franchise when the government took back control.”

Another worker explained, “I was not into politics until the government took Northern back under its control.

“The service is being set up to fail. They are not offering any overtime for Sundays so services are cancelled. But they are also cancelling services when there are staff available. Me and a guard were going to take over a train but we were informed it would not be running. The announcement on the platform said it had been cancelled because of there was no staff. This is a service run by the government!

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