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  • More train strikes to hit passengers on Northern and Merseyrail services

    Malcolm Hindle

    MORE rail strikes are set to hit Northern and Merseyrail services next month in the on-going dispute over driver-only-operated trains.

    The RMT Union has announced that Northern and Merseyrail staff will walk out over worries that the introduction of the trains would lead to job losses and safety concerns.

    Merseyrail passengers will once again have to endure industrial action on September 1, 3 and 4, while Northern employees will walk out on Friday, September 1 and Monday, September 4.

    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.

    “RMT is calling for genuine talks to take place around a safe and sustainable deal that protects the future safety across Merseyrail services. The company should take up that offer of further talks as a matter of urgency.”

    Mr Cash directed the following to Northern bosses: “The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company.

    “We are angry and frustrated that Northern continue to fail to face up to the facts and also continue to ignore a perfectly reasonable union proposal to invite the DfT to join us in round table talks aimed at finding a solution.”

    This will be the sixth stroke this year, and follows the last day of industrial action on Sunday, July 24, timed to coincide with the last day of The Open golf championship at Royal Birkdale. Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail's managing director, slammed the latest strike action, saying: “The RMT say this dispute is about safety. But a recent industry report (RSSB, Risk associated with train dispatch, July 2017) states that: ‘… there is no additional risk for passengers boarding and alighting DCO (Driver-Controlled Operation) trains, and indeed that trains without a guard actually appear to lower overall dispatch related safety risk to passengers.’”

    Alan Chaplin, Northern’s managing director, added: “Following our meeting with RMT’s General Secretary on August 18 there is no doubt that the trade union calling two days of strikes on Friday 1 and Monday, September 4, timed to coincide with people across the North returning to school, college and work after the holidays, will damage the region’s economy, significantly disrupt our customers’ lives, and impact local businesses.

    “Northern is prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years, until the end of our franchise.

    “Our offers to discuss every detail on the future responsibilities and training for on-board colleagues have been rejected by RMT.”

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