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New year to kick off with strikes across five franchises

RMT has confirmed strike action against five rail operators in the New Year.

The strikes are part of ongoing separate disputes over what the union calls an “attack on the role of the guard” and the extension of Drive Only Operation (DOO).

RMT members on Southern will strike for one day on 8 January 2018.

Workers on Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railways and the Island Line will also strike on the 8 January, as well as an additional two days on 10 and 12 January 2018.

RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said that the union has been left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action following unsuccessful attempts to reach negotiation settlements.

He added: “No one should be in any doubt, these disputes are about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies.”

Cash also said it was “ludicrous” that the union has been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales, which he said protect the interest of guards and passenger safety, but is “being denied” the same opportunities in England.

Cash said that the union has no doubt that the “dead hand of the minority Tory government is interfering in these disputes,” preventing settlements from being reached.

He demanded that the “blockade on talks” be lifted in the separate disputes to allow the RMT to negotiate with the rail operators to pursue its objective of a guard guarantee, which he says puts passenger safety before the “rank exploitation” of the rail network by “fare-jacking private companies who are laughing all the way to the bank.”

The union general secretary also said that the union is ready to take part in talks in each of the disputes.

Richard Allan, deputy managing director at Northern, said: “Northern is still prepared to guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for the rest of our franchise to 2025 if we can reach agreement on how our colleagues deliver better customer service using those fantastic new facilities.

“Additionally, last week the government wrote to RMT, guaranteeing employment for conductors beyond 2025 if RMT ends its dispute.”

And Richard Dean, service delivery director at Greater Anglia Trains said that the operator is “very disappointed” at the decision for three further days of strikes in addition to the strike scheduled for 27 December, as he said that the company has been “holding constructive talks with union officials.”

Andy Bindon, human resources director at Govia Thameslink Railway, parent company of Southern, also expressed disappointment at the announcement.

He said: “Their decision is even more regrettable as it comes on the same day that we had invited them to talks in the hope of reaching a resolution to their long-running dispute.

“We ask them to call off the strike and come to the negotiating table as we have suggested on many occasions.”

Andy Heath, Merseyrail’s managing director, also criticised the decision: "Clearly the RMT would rather manage their affairs on behalf of our guards from the side of a picket line despite the best efforts of the City Region’s metro mayor to meet for meaningful conciliation talks.

“Following on from the RMT’s latest announcement, I would like to make our passengers aware that we want to make every effort to reach an agreement with the RMT and have offered to meet with them with no preconditions in an effort to resolve this dispute – something they are unwilling to do.

“It is a fact that the only concession in this dispute so far is one that was put forward by Merseyrail several months ago when offering a guaranteed customer service adviser on every train after 8pm until last.

 “When you include the strike planned for Friday 22 December I do not believe that our guards and their families wish to lose three day’s pay in one month especially after Christmas. This decision makes it all the more evident that this is being led by the RMT’s London based national executive committee.”   

RTM has contacted South Western Railways for comment.

Top image: Charlotte Ball PA Wire

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Ian Watkins   20/12/2017 at 17:13

I think it would be news if RMT weren't going to call a strike.....

Lutz   20/12/2017 at 19:08

These strikes because the companies involved have failed to take legal action to break the finances of the RMT and it's striking membership.

Jak Jaye   21/12/2017 at 09:39

Instead of headlining strikes that have little or no impact(not in the South East anyway) you should be highlighting the thousands of hours lost through Net Work Rails incompetence that millions of rail users suffer every day as well as the totally useless TOC's most of whom couldn't run a bath!

Neil Palmer   22/12/2017 at 20:35

So, Mick Cash can still expect a lump of coal in his Xmas stocking. Maybe the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come will visit Mick and transform him into someone who knows the meaning of the word negotiate.

B. Ching   23/12/2017 at 14:41

He'd like coal, then he can put a fireman back on the footplate of steam locomotives

Steve B Collins   23/12/2017 at 20:08

"I think it would be news if RMT weren't going to call a strike..... " LOL. Yes, how abut a website that lists every day when the RMT is not taking some action somewhere on Britain's railway. It wouldn't take a lot of updating!

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