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  • Merseyrail train guards going on strike on May 30

    Henry James

    TRAIN guards at Merseyrail and Northern Rail are to go on strike on Tuesday, May 30.

    The strike will last 24 hours and is about plans to introduce driver-operated-only trains.

    The union said that it was angry and frustrated that Merseyrail had turned down a union proposal to set up a “safety working group”, alongside outside safety bodies and the train manufacturer Stadler, on the principle that a second safety-critical person would be retained on all services.

    RMT General secretary Mick Cash said: “It is disgraceful that Merseyrail continue to refuse all reasonable attempts by the union to settle this dispute.

    “Merseyrail have repeatedly kicked all conciliatory approaches by RMT negotiators back in our faces and made it crystal clear that all that they are interested in is the union signing a surrender document which gives them a free hand to rip apart the safety culture on the railway.

    “It is that cynical and hostile stance from Merseyrail which has left us with no option but to put on this additional strike action. RMT recognises the severe impact that the action will have but we are dealing with an employer that refuses to listen or engage with the union on the critical issue of safe rail operation and we ask the public to understand that we have no option but to take this high-profile action to force the company back to the negotiating table.

    “There is ample time between now and May 30 for genuine talks to take place and for a safe and sustainable deal that protects the future safety across Merseyrail services to be put in place. The company should take up that offer of further talks as a matter of urgency.
    “Merseyrail are completely ignoring the clear wishes of their own passengers, who overwhelmingly oppose the idea of Driver Only Operated trains on their network. That pig-headed attitude has forced the union’s hand and the idea that we would compromise on the fundamental issue of rail safety is absurd. The ball is now firmly in Merseyrail’s court.”

    Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, commented: “We want to end this dispute as quickly as possible and are always prepared to talk to the trade unions. Over the last two months, we had several meetings with the RMT. In the last one, Merseyrail put forward a number of initiatives, which we were willing to explore through a series of working groups.

    “These included having a second member of staff on trains after 8pm. Unfortunately, the RMT would not talk about these things unless we committed to a second safety critical person on every single train. In other words, it is not us that has turned down the working group, it’s the RMT.

    “We are disappointed that the RMT is not prepared to budge, but the RMT is stopping us find a resolution. Merseyrail has always been available for substantive, meaningful talks and will continue to be.

    “This third day of industrial action will again hit local people and the local economy. Our region deserves new trains. It should not be a pawn in the RMT’s national game.”

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