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Strike to go ahead on Northern as RMT talks break down

Discussions between Arriva Rail North and the RMT union have broken down once again, confirming that strike action will go ahead on Friday this week. The TOC expects to run around 40% of its normal service during the 24-hour industrial action.

The news comes the day after the RMT confirmed that talks had also broken down with operator Merseyrail, opening the door for more strikes to be called on these services soon.

The dispute between Northern and the RTM has come about due to the role of the guard on driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

Northern’s deputy managing director Richard Allan said that it was disappointing the RMT were once again unwilling to move from its current position during negotiations.

“Our employees want us to talk about changes we need to make to the on-board role as we modernise our railway, Allan said.

“We believe we would keep a second person on many of our services and, at some locations, we may choose to staff the station to give better support to customers. In addition to protecting jobs and current pay, we are also willing to offer future, annual pay reviews for existing conductors if we can agree a deal with RMT.

“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.”

According to the RMT, the union had proposed to invite officials from the DfT to join in three-way talks to reach an agreement, something that Arriva reportedly turned down “point blank”.

The union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, stated that the “sheer intransigence” of Arriva had led to action being confirmed for Friday.

“The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company,” Cash argued. “We are angry and frustrated that Arriva have thrown out a perfectly reasonable proposal to invite the DfT to join us in three way talks aimed at finding a solution.”

Cash also blamed Arriva for trying to “bulldoze” through their plans, saying it showed “flagrant disregard” for the safety issues at the heart of the dispute which left the union no option but to go on strike.

“The union continues to remain available for meaningful discussions with the company in order to seek a satisfactory resolution to the on-going dispute,” he said.

Meanwhile, RMT has been engaged in two days of talks with Southern – the operator it has now been in a dispute with for over a year – also over the introduction of DOO. Meetings have now been adjourned and will reconvene next week.

Top Image: Alvey and Towers

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