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RMT returns to picket line on Northern

Members of the RMT union have returned to the picket line today on Northern in protest at plans to introduce driver-only operated (DOO) trains, while changing the number and role of guards on-board the TOC’s new fleet.

It follows talks breaking down between the two parties on Wednesday, as RMT cited the “sheer intransigence” of Arriva during negotiations. This was after the operator claimed that it offered the union future and annual pay reviews for existing conductors if an agreement was reached to bring the dispute to an end.

The argument surrounds the role of guards on trains and the move to DOO – a measure that RMT believe will threaten the safety of passengers.

During the strike action, Northern announced it would be running a reduced service, of around 40% of its regular trains.

Northern stated it was “disappointing” that RMT would not budge from its position during talks, as deputy managing director Richard Allan said: “It is hugely disappointing that RMT is making demands rather than working with us to develop our plans. There is so much to discuss and we urge them to get back round the table.”

And RMT stated today its picket line was “solid as a rock” as general secretary Mick Cash added: “The RMT strike action this morning is solid as a rock from coast to coast and right the way across the Arriva Rail North franchise as our members continue the fight to put public safety before private profit.

“If the German state-owned Arriva get away with their plans we will end up with a toxic combination of de-staffed trains and stations where safety and access ‎are compromised while fat profits are shipped across the channel to subsidise rail operations in Germany,” he said. “That is a national scandal and the government should be hanging their heads in shame.”

The war of words between the two has escalated to the RMT claiming that getting rid of guards on trains would lead to a “surge in crime”, as Cash argued: “Removing staff from trains, which will travel through over 300 unstaffed stations, is a toxic combination that will increase anti-social behaviour and unleash a surge in crime which will see Northern rail becoming a muggers’ paradise.

“The public are right to be concerned and that is why they are backing RMT’s fight for the guarantee of a guard on Northern trains.”

In related news, talks between RMT and Merseyrail on a similar issue also failed this week, meaning that strike action could be expected on these services in due course.

The RMT also staged a protest outside Westminster on Wednesday as its dispute with Southern, also with regards to DOO trains, had reached the year anniversary of its beginning.

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Jimbo   28/04/2017 at 12:10

Yawn, more ranting from a Union that is incapable of compromise and don't realise they have already lost. The most recent Southern strike saw the operator run 95% of its timetable and 55% of conductors & OBS reported for work. Doesn't sound like a win, particularly when half your members ignore the strike. Philip Haigh in this weeks RAIL magazine makes a good point - the people really losing out here are the staff and union members. Whilst their union leadership is fighting a lost cause, their job security is going out of the wndow. The RMT was more concillatory, the members would get a better deal. ASLEF knows this which is why they have compromised.

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