NW Labour declares motion supporting rail workers ‘against party policy’. How?!

Tonight, a Merseyside CLP (constituency Labour party) was scheduled to debate a motion in support of rail workers and against the proposed introduction of ‘DOO’ (driver-only operation) on Merseyrail and Northern Rail services on Merseyside (and Southern etc elsewhere).

John Tilley, an RMT union official was at the meeting and gave an impassioned and compelling talk about the importance of guards to passenger safety – Merseyrail employees have been guaranteed other work, but the issue is not simply their job security but the safety of the people using the services – and gave many recent examples where train guards have been crucial to ensuring passenger safety in the region following breakdowns, accidents etc.

safer with guard.png

When the time came to discuss the motion, the CLP Chair announced – it had not been flagged in any way before the meeting – that the motion would not be discussed or voted on, because ‘Region’ (Labour’s north-west regional HQ) had blocked it.

And had done so because it is “against Labour party policy and might damage the campaign of Steve Rotheram for ‘Metro Mayor'”.

There was significant outrage among members about this announcement, especially because the Chair had not even asked for clarification as to why either of those things might apply.

Here is the full wording of the motion:

Opposing the introduction of driver-only trains on Merseyrail

This CLP endorses the cross party motion of Liverpool City Council dated 17th September 2014 to oppose Driver Only Operation on the railway network and locally here on Merseyside.

This CLP notes the important safety-critical role of railway guards both nationally and on the Merseyrail Network and that 70% of trains use this safety-proven and efficient method of operation.

This safety-critical role includes:

1) Safe evacuation of trains in an emergency such as fire, derailment, collision
2) Ensuring all electrical current is switched off during any emergency.
3) Directing Passengers to a place of safety and away from danger.
4) Ensuring safe method of despatch at the passenger/train interface (platform to train)
5) Following safety critical protocols.
6) Being regularly assessed to ensure competency.

We note that on rolling-stock without a guard the train drivers’ view in despatching trains (with in-cab screens typically one per carriage), are regularly obscured by rain, dirt, reflection from station lighting, platform curves, crowded platforms and that train drivers cannot see down the full length of a train to despatch safely and that the safest method of despatch is with a guard.

We also note that the customer service role ensures the passengers with disabilities are not disadvantaged and left behind on a system that is designed and used as a “walk on system”.

This CLP therefore rejects the decision of the Merseytravel Committee and the Liverpool City Region to remove 207 safety-critical guards’ roles from the Merseyrail network with the procurement of new rolling-stock and also opposes plans for Driver Only Operation on the Arriva Rail North Franchise contained in the franchise agreement

This CLP therefore proposes and calls for:

1) The Merseytravel Committee to reverse their decision to remove guards.
2) The Liverpool Combined Region to reverse their decision to remove guards.
3) To write to the Chair of LCR, The Chair and Chief executive of Merseytravel, Mayor of Liverpool,the Metro Mayor candidates and Rail North expressing our opposition.
4) Write to the employers Merseyrail & Arriva Rail North expressing our opposition to Driver Only Operation (sometimes referred to as Driver Controlled Operation).
5) To contact local and national media informing them of this decision.
6) To write to the RMT & ASLE&F trade unions, Merseyside MP’s, Leader of the Labour Party & Shadow Transport Minster informing them of this decision
7) To support rail trade union campaigns and industrial action in defence of the retention of safety-critical guards on our railway network.

A motion in favour of passenger safety and access for disabled people – and against measures that would work against both of those things. What the hell is 

How is that remotely ‘against Labour Party policy‘? How it would damage the Labour candidate’s mayoral campaign to be in favour of passenger safety? Steve Rotheram’s own CLP already passed an almost identical motion anyway. What the hell is NW Labour playing at?

Can anyone tell me?


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  1. It’s well past the time when certain officials need to start justifying their perverse decisions to the membership. Who do they really represent?

    1. Starmer, you’d mean, of course. Obviously, the CLP here represented the consensus view of the Liverpool Labour rank-and-file, and obviously there’s no such thing as an even-potential Labour voter that is insisting Labour remain neutral on a good-vs-evil fight like this strike.

      There is no “centre ground” on any dispute between the workers and the bosses”.

  2. It appears it is against Labour policy to support legal industrial action but it is OK for certain Labour individuals to interfere in the internal leadership election of one of Britain’s biggest Unions.

  3. The answer to your questions are:
    It is NOT remotely ‘against Labour Party policy‘.
    It would NOT damage the Labour candidate’s mayoral campaign to be in favour of passenger safety; it would strengthen his campaign.
    What the hell is NW Labour playing at? I think you know the answer to that.

  4. Such a perverse policy to get rid of jobs – and in this and most instances important jobs – whilst allowing top executives and share holders to take millions out of the business. Those millions could keep people in work. Such a perverse government policy also to get rid of jobs whilst telling the unemployed to go out and find work. How about a government which creates jobs instead of destroying jobs?

  5. A thought. The members have only the Chair’s word that it was blocked by region. What if the problem lay a little closer to home?

  6. How did NWRO know the CLP would be discussing and putting forward this resolution? Region must have had prior knowledge, so who tipped them off and why?
    Why did the chair not mention this before the speaker had made his case? Lastly, why did the chair not challenge NWRO and get full clarification of why the motion was against party interests?

    A motion of no confidence in the chair may be in order.

    1. The speaker was from the RMT giving their take on the dispute and was not the proposer. Time was short and the Chair would have closed the meeting with no comment if the matter had not been raised.
      I have a couple of names in the frame for reporting this to the NWRO but sadly no proof.

  7. If I was a member of that CLP I would be asking the Chair how NWRO knew of the motion and for the Chair to provide evidence in writing that NWRO had blocked it. Without that evidence it is simply hearsay and the Chair needs to explain pdq.

  8. The new South East regional organiser is a 25y old with a MA in International Relations who was active in campaigning for Liz Kendal in the first leadership contest. His Linked in profile also boasts about a successful fund raiser which had Tony Blair as the speaker.

    Frankly words fail… why is the LP still appointing New Labourites to positions of power? At least, I know why but this is a fundamental level at which we need to be opposing.

  9. I suspect some blathering right wing idiot is being stupid because RMT are not affiliated to the party

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