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RMT announces further 24-hour strike on Northern and Merseyrail

Further strike action on Merseyrail and Northern has been confirmed by RMT, whose members will strike for 24 hours on 3 March as part of a long-running dispute over driver-only operation (DOO).

RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, claimed that every effort made by the union to reach a settlement in both disputes “has been kicked back in our faces.”

“It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England,” he argued.

“Theresa May and Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger with eye-watering fare increases to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains. 

“If it’s good enough for Wales and Scotland to put safety first then it’s good enough for the rest of the UK.”

But Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, responded: “We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and hold pay reviews for our 1,300 conductors until the end of our franchise in 2025, with the government guaranteeing jobs beyond that if RMT ends its strike action.

“RMT has recently rejected our request to hold a fresh ballot of Northern conductors after nearly a year of strike action.”

In a statement, Merseyrail also called the dispute “senseless,” arguing that “not one single employee will lose their job.”

The train operator claimed that the union is “stuck in a time warp of its industrial past,” and that it fails to recognise and consider the need of modernisation and changes to working practices to meet the needs of the modern customer.

Andy Heath, Merseyrail’s managing director, added: “Yet again the RMT have announced a further strike, remaining entrenched in a position which is to oppose any form of change with no desire to meet with us and reach an agreement. We have continually sought to reach a compromised solution, however, the RMT remain intent on causing disruption to our customers.

“I would again urge our guards to reconsider their strike action at a time when we should really be in talks about how we can work together to give you clarity and security about your future, building on our commitment to guarantee you a job within our business.”

Both train operators have said that they will try to run as many services as possible during the strike.

Top image: Jonathan Brady PA Wire

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Mike   16/02/2018 at 14:36

Perhaps it's about time Merseyrail rethought its guaranteed job offer. It's an unprecedented offer and incredibly generous. Why should it come for free? As a train traveller, my own job is potentially at risk every time there is a strike. It's pretty galling to know that those causing that are guaranteed their own positions. There doesn't seem to be much incentive for them to not take jolly unpaid leave days, and I find it hard to feel that they are worthy of their current jobs right now, let alone guaranteed jobs when anyone else would simply get served redundancy notices. Carry on striking and you'll be made redundant - seems fair to me. And if they don't like it, they can go on strike, can't they?

Jerry Alderson   16/02/2018 at 17:15

Very interesting that Greater Anglia is not included in the strike (neither is Southern) this time around. Has the RMT realised that its strikes on GA achieve nothing (other than an opportunity cost to GA from managerial staff being distracted) as the operator runs a 100% service each time?

Neil Palmer   16/02/2018 at 18:28

Jerry is right on with his comment. Southern pushed ahead with the changes and now strike action is basically ineffective. SWR seem to be going the same way, promising a full (or nearly full) service during the latest pointless RMT strike call. Cash won't allow a new vote as he knows he'd lose his strike mandate. It should be the law that after a year a strike vote needs to be held again or the strike mandate ends. And Mike makes an excellent point too, announce the guaranteed job offer is only open to those who accept it and sign up in the next 2 months. Like what GTR/Southern did with the new On Board role (that the RMT advised their members to sign up for).

Lutz   20/02/2018 at 09:13

These strikes only continue because TOC managers are too soft to put an end to the problem; bring legal means to halt the strikes and bankrupt the union.

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