Southern Rail or RMT – who cares?
Last month Sandra went to support the RMT strikers at Hastings station for the first time. As a wheelchair user, she’s very worried about the Driver-Only-Operated train policy, because she can foresee that if trains can be operated by the driver alone, the chances are that the role of the guard/conductor/second person on the train will be eroded in favour of profits. Here Sandra tells her heartwarming story for you in the face of adverse travel circumstances.
I needed to go to Hove on Friday for an event I was co-organising with my fellow Dog AID client, Maddy. The event was to raise awareness and funds for our charity – Dog AID (Assistance In Disability). Dog AID helps disabled people train their own pet dog to be their assistance dog!
Professor Elemental, DJ Maxwell, and two rappers put on a gig free of charge for us, it was amazing! But it was looking like I wasn’t gonna make it, as the train drivers were striking! I phoned the assisted travel line, as usually if the train replacement buses aren’t accessible, they get me a taxi, but they weren’t prepared to do so on this occasion!
I’m not sure if that’s legal, but what can I do? I looked at other ways to to go, but was running out of options, when Ian Stewart went to the Unions and raised money, I believe, from the RMT and Unite, and possibly another, so I could go via taxi! How amazing!
The photo was taken on the Saturday when I returned from Hove! I was wearing the lion’s head to show how angry the situation has made me! What I want to highlight is the fact that travel as a disabled person is hard enough, without Southern taking away the guards. The new proposed arrangement for disabled passengers for the trains without guards is with backup from taxis. My worry is that they will start refusing taxis – like they did to me on Friday.
Rail strike campaigner Kay Green says: “Sandra, along with Ella the Assistance Dog, have been a mainstay of the RMT Solidarity Crew in Hastings, drawing attention to the many reasons – some national, some particular to Southern Railways – why we in Hastings need a guarantee of a guard on every train. Today, we met at Hastings Station to give Sandra the taxi money put together by the local RMT branch and other unions, to make up for the latest example of a day when she couldn’t find assisted travel arrangements for the journey she needed to make on Southern Trains. As you can see, Sandra has found the face that expresses how DPAC are feeling about Southern.”
Southern are very keen to blame all of the mis-management on to the strikers, so here is a reminder of what Southern’s departure boards look like on a day when NOBODY IS ON STRIKE!
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