DELEGATES to the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference called on commuters yesterday to rally behind the party which will renationalise the railways and keep safety-critical train guards.
TSSA delegate Ray Spiteri made the call as conference debated a motion opposing rail privateers’ attempts to introduce driver-only-operated (DOO) trains.
He slammed plans to impose “this unsafe practice” and urged solidarity with “our brothers and sisters in [rail union] RMT” in their fight to keep safety-critical guards on the trains.
RMT delegate Jennifer Aggrey-Fynn told conference that a train guard saved her life when she suffered a mini-stroke and collapsed.
She said that the guard and platform manager caught her as she was about to fall off a train after her legs gave way.
She also warned that trains without guards would make trains less accessible for disabled passengers.
Tribute was paid to the “rank-and-file Aslef members who have refused to cross our picket lines and the fantastic support from disabled people.”
Mr Spiteri told conference how a guard had saved the life of a man who had an epileptic fit on a train and had fallen into a coma. “Without the safety-critical guard he would have died,” he added.
And public-sector union Unison delegate Ian Scott-Burdon warned: “As a deaf person I wouldn’t be able to follow a route.
“British Sign Language is my first language, English is my second.
“I wouldn’t be able to read the maps and if there are any announcements I won’t hear them.”
Ms Aggrey-Fynn told conference to applause: “We are striking again on May 30 and you are all welcome to join our picket lines across the country as we say: ‘No to DOO. Our jobs, your safety’.”