HS2

20.09.17

RMT ‘playing politics’ with passengers as strike action planned in October

October is set to be another tough month for commuters across the country as the RMT announced a tranche of strikes across four operators.

Following strikes in September, RMT members will walk out for 24 hours on Tuesday 3 October and Thursday 5 October on Southern, Northern, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia services.

The dispute, which on Southern has now dragged on for more than a year, centres around the move to driver-only operated (DOO) trains, something union representatives say will compromise passenger safety on trains.

The union has also recently threatened to strike on a fifth TOC, East Midlands, although this would be over a separate pay dispute.

RMT leadership said it was “bitterly disappointed” at the TOCs for not coming up with a resolution with them, adding that they had been left with no choice but to call a strike.

“RMT has a clear plan for resolving this dispute but that requires round table talks now to push forwards,” said union general secretary Mick Cash.

“This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer. The union stands ready and waiting for genuine and meaningful talks with all parties and we are pressing Mr Grayling to get his contractors into line as a matter of urgency.”

Unsurprisingly, TOC bosses reacted to the news with a great deal of exasperation, as they claimed to have tried to press forward with finding a fair deal for union members.

“We are busy trying to build a better city region with an improved railway,” Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said.

“The RMT seem to be doing everything in their power to destroy this work. Don’t they want Liverpool to succeed?”

And Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, explained that Northern was modernising local rail with new and refurbished trains, better stations and faster journeys and, while strike action is disruptive, it remained firmly focused on delivering a better service for our customers.

"RMT continues to reject our offers to talk and we are disappointed that the union has called further strike action on Tuesday 3 and Thursday 5 October,” he continued. “We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, also stated: “What our customers and the whole of Britain needs is one railway, one team working together to deliver better services now and for the long term – not more needless, opportunistic strikes.

“Train companies are working together to keep Britain moving and support the economy while the RMT leadership is playing politics with a vital public service that millions of people rely on every day. The union should call a halt to the strikes and get back to constructive talks.”

Top Image: Victoria Jones PA Wire

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Comments

Neil Palmer   20/09/2017 at 18:39

Wow - I finally agree with something Mick Cash said: “This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer." He's 100% right. It's high time for legislation to designate the railways as a vital public service (certainly vital for the UK economy). At the least there needs to be back to work legislation stipulating mandatory binding arbitration on this issue. Now all we need are some politicians with the intestinal fortitude to bring forth legislation on this.

Lutz   20/09/2017 at 20:34

@Neil Palmer The counter part to that is that union members sign-up to new no-strike contracts via being made to re-apply for their jobs. They also need to give-up state pensions in the event of the railways being nationalised per above so as not to burden national debt levels. They would be required to get pensions for the open market. Contracts also need to be changed so that they work as many hours as necessary in the event of service perturbation so as to speed recovery to normal service. Just a few by-products of what is suggested.

King's Lynn   21/09/2017 at 09:36

"Contracts also need to be changed so that they work as many hours as necessary in the event of service perturbation so as to speed recovery to normal service." ..so pull one's finger out when the s**t hits the fan, rather than work to rule? My, what a novel concept!

SWB   23/09/2017 at 18:56

It would seem RMT's strategy has failed since the affected TOC's have not pressed very hard for a return to the bargaining table. Sure they are a bit put out and express "exasperation" at the union's actions. But when a strike really hurts, the company is desperate for some sort of compromise. I don't see that here. Meanwhile it is the passenger who suffers.

PP   29/09/2017 at 11:21

They won't ever admit it, of course, but I'm convinced the RMT's real agenda here is a determination to see a franchise fail over this. They know TOC margins are wafer-thin, and if they cause enough disruption they'll bring one to the brink. Pretty disgusting behaviour, to be honest.

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