Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson have written a joint letter to the RMT and Merseyrail, calling on both sides to engage in immediate, independent conciliation without conditions.
It follows a series of strikes by members of the RMT union concerning the long- running dispute over the role of guards and driver- only trains.
Leaders of the other five districts within the Liverpool City Region are also included in the joint letter, which calls on both parties to find a settlement of their dispute as early as possible.
The letter states:
We are concerned that this dispute is continuing, and feel that only meaningful dialogue and a willingness to engage in detailed negotiation can find a way forward. We are equally concerned that statements emanating from both sides only serve to entrench positions and have the potential to make it more difficult for sides to come to a negotiated settlement.”
Steve Rotheram said:
We have been in contact with both sides to encourage dialogue and resolution, but it is now our belief that an independent process of conciliation without conditions could achieve a breakthrough. The dispute has gone on for long enough and for the benefit of the public, both parties need to break the deadlock.”
Read the letter in full:
Dear Mick and Jan,
As the political leaders in theLiverpool City Region, we are writing collectively in light of the on-goingindustrial action on the Merseyrail network.
We are concerned that this disputeis continuing, and feel that only meaningful dialogue and a willingness toengage in detailed negotiation can find a way forward.
We are equally concerned thatstatements emanating from both sides only serve to entrench positions and havethe potential to make it more difficult for sides to come to a negotiatedsettlement.
We are in no doubt that with themassive investment in the new trains, the Merseyrail network will be enhancedsignificantly.
We understand, however, that changecan be difficult for all parties involved, but with three years before the newfleet arrives there is more than enough time for detailed negotiations to finda mutually acceptable agreement.
We appreciate this may requiremovement from all sides, but believe this would be in the best interests of thetravelling public.
We are calling for both parties inthe dispute, Merseyrail and the RMT, to agree to engage in a process ofindependent conciliation, starting with no pre-conditions, with the intent of seekingto find a negotiated settlement as soon as practicable.
We look forward to your response.
Metro Mayor ofthe Liverpool City Region
Cllr Rob Polhill
Leader of HaltonCouncil
Cllr Andy Moorhead
Leader ofKnowsley Council
Cllr Ian Maher
Leader of SeftonCouncil
Cllr Barrie Grunewald
Leader of StHelens Council
Cllr Phil Davies
Leader of WirralCouncil
More than half of Northern Rail services will have to be cancelled because of planned strike action next week, the train operator has warned.
Members of the RMT union are due to walk out on the 3rd and 5th of October in a long- running dispute over the role of guards and driver- only trains.
The company, which operates across the North East, North West and Yorkshire, said it aimed to run about 1,200 services - 46% of its normal timetable.
Rail companies are to stage two 24-hour strikes in worsening disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains.
Members of Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North will walk out on October 3 and 5.
The strikes will coincide with the Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary accused Arriva Rail North of "intransigence", adding: "
The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company. We are angry and frustrated that Arriva 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.
"The public, who support RMT's campaign for a guarantee of a guard on their trains, will be appalled that Arriva Rail North have failed yet again to offer any kind of progress whatsoever in the talks and have instead opted to try and bulldoze through their plans regardless."
A petition in defence of guards on Merseyrail has attracted over 20,000 signatures.
Mr Cash said:
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 press ahead with a further two days of 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."
The Merseyrail strike will coincide with the first phase of work to transform Liverpool Lime Street mainline station by the end of 2018.
Between September 30 and October 22 Network Rail will embark on a major project to overhaul the station, helping cater for a predicted doubling of peak-time passengers by 2043.
No trains will enter or leave Lime Street mainline station for nine days, and many will be diverted.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail's managing director, said:
We are busy trying to build a better city region with an improved railway.
"The RMT seem to be doing everything in their power to destroy this work. Don't they want Liverpool to succeed?"
Richard Allan, Arriva Rail North's deputy managing director, said:
Northern is modernising local rail with new and refurbished trains, better stations and faster journeys, and while strike action is disruptive, we remain firmly focused on delivering a better service for our customers.
"RMT continues to reject our offers to talk and we are disappointed that the union has called further strike action.
"We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years."
Another wave of train strikes is expected to cause major disruption starting later on Arriva Northern and Merseyrail.
It's part of a long running dispute over controversial plans to introduce driver only trains.
Passengers are being advised to check with their train operators who're laying on replacement services.
A fresh wave of strikes on Merseyrail will go ahead after talks between union leaders and politicians failed to achieve a breakthrough to a bitter dispute over staffing and the role of guards.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on Friday, Sunday and Monday, following stoppages earlier in the year.
The union said it wanted to ask Labour politicians on Merseyside "which side are you on?" after talks with officials, including Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham.
RMT leader Mick Cash said:
"RMT is bitterly disappointed that our efforts to make progress towards a resolution of the Merseyrail guards and safety dispute have been blocked off once again and as a result, the action on Friday, Sunday and Monday goes ahead as planned.
"It was made clear to us that the reason for axing the safety-critical guards on Merseyrail trains is entirely cash-led. At a time when this company is trousering £16 million in profits from passengers on Merseyside, it is disgraceful that they cannot find the £5 million that it would cost to keep the guards on the trains, keep the public safe and maintain disabled access to these lifeline services.
"Labour nationally has set out a clear policy of opposing the great privatised rail rip-off and the profit-led extension of driver only operation.
"RMT has had fantastic support from a large number of Labour MPs, councillors and local parties on Merseyside for our current campaign to keep the guards on our trains and we intend to build on that as we step up the pressure."
Rail workers in the north are to launch a fresh wave of strikes in long-running disputes over staffing and driver-only trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Arriva Rail North will walk out on Friday September 1 and Monday September 4.
Strikes will be held at Merseyrail on September 1, 3 and 4.
The union accused the companies and the Government of pressing ahead with controversial plans to extend driver-only operation.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash had a meeting with Arriva Rail North on Friday but accused the company of "intransigence", adding:
"The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company.
"We are angry and frustrated that Arriva continue to fail to face up to the facts and also continue to ignore a perfectly reasonable union proposal to invite the DfT (Department for Transport) to join us in round-table talks aimed at finding a solution.
"The public, who support RMT's campaign for a guarantee of a guard on their trains, will be appalled that Arriva Rail North have failed yet again to offer any kind of progress whatsoever in the talks and have instead opted to try and bulldoze through their plans regardless.
"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."
Alan Chaplin, Northern's managing director, said:
"Following our meeting with RMT's general secretary, there is no doubt that the trade union calling two days of strikes 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.
"Northern is modernising with new and updated trains, faster and more frequent services, and better stations from now until 2020. We want to make changes to the on-board colleague role to make it fit for the future, better supporting customers on trains and at stations."
Leaders of the biggest rail workers' union have held a "productive" meeting with Liverpool's Metro Mayor in a bid to resolve a dispute over driver-only trains.
The meeting between Steve Rotheram came a day after the latest 24-hour strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We have had a productive meeting today and there was a full and frank exchange of views and information.
"Both sides agreed to continue the dialogue and we will reconvene within the next six weeks."
Union members picket Merseyrail and Northern servicesRead the full story ›
Weekend of strike action by RMT members on Northern and Merseyrail.Read the full story ›
Members of the RMT union working for Merseyrail and Northern trains plan to walk out over the weekendRead the full story ›