Strikes to con­tinue in guards dis­pute

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ [email protected]­plc.com @jamie_lopez1

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

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