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Southern, Northern and Merseyrail set for major RMT strike action in July

Yet more strikes have been announced by the RMT across Merseyrail, Northern and Southern services to take place on different days in July.

Members of the union will strike for 24 hours on Saturday 8 July, Monday 10 July and Sunday 23 July on Merseyrail, and on Northern they will strike on Saturday 8 July, Sunday 9 July and Monday 10 July. On Southern, commuters will face one day of strike action in July – Monday 10 July.

It follows the union cancelling strikes that were scheduled to take place at the end of June after the Manchester attack which closed Victoria station. July’s strikes will also extend the lengthy dispute between the RMT and Southern, which has now dragged on for over a year.

A spokesperson for Southern accused the RMT of “refusing to play its part in the modern railway” as it remained unmoved in its attitude towards DOO trains.

“Southern is the most congested network in the UK with passenger numbers into London doubling in just 12 years, so modernisation of infrastructure, trains and working practices is essential to provide the service levels passengers need and deserve,” a spokesperson said.

“While we have been willing to negotiate and have made four comprehensive offers, the RMT has not demonstrated any serious intent to resolve its dispute,” Southern’s spokesperson continued.

“It has not put any of our four offers to its members, including our latest of 16 May, to which we’ve had no formal response. This offered guarantees on job security, staffing ratios, rostering and enhanced training.”

But the RMT continue to state that the franchise was “lurching from crisis to crisis” and were being forced to hack back on safety and access to run services.

“We have seen absolute chaos at Victoria and East Croydon this week in the hot weather which has reinforced the need for safety critical staff on our trains and platforms,” said outspoken general secretary of the RMT Mick Cash. “The government cannot spin their way out of this chaotic situation which is wholly of their making.”

Merseyrail: RMT ‘unprepared to work with us’

Bosses at Merseyrail also criticised the RMT for being uncooperative when they had put offers on the table.

“Although we brought several new initiatives to the table in the last round of talks, the RMT is unprepared to work with us to find middle ground,” said managing director of Merseyrail Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde.

“As well as guaranteeing a job to all guards who wish to stay at Merseyrail under the same terms and conditions, once the new trains arrive in 2020, we also put on the negotiating table a member of customer service staff on every train after eight o’clock at night.”

Chaudhry-van der Velde also commented that the strike was timed to coincide with Liverpool hosting the British Style Collective for the first time, and would make protecting passengers even more difficult during the event.

“While we, as always, will do our best to minimise disruption, our passengers should not be made to suffer at the hands of the RMT, and the Liverpool City Region should not be caught in the cross-fire of a national dispute directed by unions in London,” he concluded.

Northern ‘deeply disappointed’ with RMT

Northern also commented that it was “deeply disappointed and hugely frustrated” that the disruptive union continued to cause problems for passengers on its network.

Richard Allan, the operator’s deputy managing director, said: “We are deeply disappointed and hugely frustrated that RMT is choosing to cause more pain for our colleagues and customers rather than get round the table to talk first.

“Only this week we wrote to RMT again, urging them to engage in meaningful modernisation talks with us. We have been clear that for all our conductors we are prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay, and continue with annual pay reviews, if we can reach agreement with RMT.

“The RMT’s dispute will be solved by talking, not by unnecessary strike action which impacts our customers, our employees, businesses and the economy of the North,” he stated. “Should the RMT strike action go ahead, we are committed to keeping our customers on the move as much as possible.”

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