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‘Solidly supported’ strike in train guards dispute leaves services disrupted

Only a third of services were running because of the strike (Martin Rickett/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

A fresh strike in the train guards dispute was being “solidly supported” on Saturday, causing more disruption to services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) walked out for 24 hours, with further stoppages planned in the coming weeks.

Only a third of services were running because of the strike, which went ahead after the collapse of talks earlier this week

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing solid, determined and united again this morning on Northern Rail in the continuing fight for safety, security and access on our trains and are angry and frustrated that the company collapsed this week’s Acas talks rather than work out a deal.

“‎This is the 28th day of strike action in the Northern Rail dispute  and our members remain absolutely resolute in the campaign for a safe, secure and accessible railway for all.

“It is scandalous that while other train operators have been prepared to engage seriously with RMT on the crucial issue of a guaranteed second safety-critical member of staff on their services, ARN have treated us with contempt and made a mockery of the talks process.

“It’s about time that German-owned ARN, part of the giant state Deutsche Bahn outfit, stopped treating their frontline, safety critical staff like dirt and started talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee.

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“RMT will not allow safety, security and access on our railways to be compromised in the drive for private profit.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety and passenger service.”

Richard Allan, deputy managing director at Northern, said: “Northern invited RMT to Acas talks and agreed to discuss the three options RMT had suggested beforehand on the role of the on-board member of staff.

“Northern was prepared to talk about the RMT’s options.

“However, RMT unilaterally changed the basis of what they were prepared to talk about.

“This is despite the fact that they have reached agreements on similar terms elsewhere in the industry.

“RMT then called yet more strike action which will only cause further unnecessary difficulty for customers.

“Northern remains ready to talk about the options and calls on RMT to cancel strike action and return to the talks.

“Northern is getting on with the important job of modernising local rail for customers with new trains, better stations and more services.

“It remains willing to involve RMT in that positive future for colleagues and customers. But progress can only be achieved through talking.”