Strikes to continue in guards dispute
WEEKLY rail strikes will continue into the New Year, the RMT union has announced. Rail workers will stage a series of fresh action in the long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains.
As a result, Northern Rail staff in the RMT union will walk out on every Saturday in January.
They have already held 41 strikes and were already due to stop work next Saturday.
The union accused the company of refusing to engage in serious talks around the guard guarantee, while calls by the company for an inquiry into the dispute were described as a publicity stunt.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT continues to make every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going with Northern but the company are not interested and would prefer to call for an inquiry into the dispute to deflect attention from the impact of their behaviour on the travelling public.
“German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.
“We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”
Northern has written to the conciliation service Acas asking it to establish an independent inquiry into the dispute.
Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, said: “The RMT dispute means customers, businesses and the wider economy in the north have suffered the cost of 40 days of RMT strikes, including every Saturday in September, October, November and now December. Customers, employers and colleagues are looking for both parties to resolve the dispute.
“More than 50% of all rail journeys in the UK are made on driver-controlled trains and recently the Department for Transport and Transport for the North publicly confirmed that a second person - in addition to the driver - would be retained on Northern services.
“This second person will provide customer service, including meeting customer needs on accessibility, safety, security, ticketing and information. Despite this, the RMT continues with its strike action.
“We call on RMT to join us in committing to the inquiry and suspending its industrial action whilst the inquiry takes place.
“This would demonstrate commitment from both sides to try and resolve the issues, reassuring customers and stakeholders that every endeavour is being made by both sides.”
“The inquiry would look at the future role of the second person on the train across the Northern network and explore the feasibility of driver controlled operation, in which the driver has full operational control of the train, including the train doors.
“We have promised our conductors that their future role will be onboard our trains, we can guarantee that role until at least 2025, their current pay will be protected (starting salary for conductors is £28,250 pa), and their pay will be reviewed annually, if RMT ends its damaging dispute.”
Northern Rail workers are set to continue their weekly rail strikes in the long-running dispute over guards on trains
The RMT union has accused Northern Rail of refusing to engage in serious talks