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Rail workers to strike next month in disputes over the role of guards

Credit: PA

Workers on Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North are set to strike on November 8, in a long running dispute over the role of guards.

The union said it had made "every single effort" to resolve the disputes, accusing the train operators of "suspending" normal industrial relations.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action in early November.

"It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England.

"This suspension of normal industrial relations by the employers has to end if we are to make progress towards a solution that guarantees safe rail travel for all.

"RMT is in no doubt that it is the dead hand of the minority Tory Government that is interfering in these disputes to block negotiated settlements.

"It is outrageous that Prime Minister Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains.

"RMT is demanding today that the Government lift the central blockade on talks, allow us to negotiate freely with their contractors and give us the opportunity to pursue the objective of a guard guarantee that puts British passenger safety before the rank exploitation of our rail network by overseas operators who are laughing all the way to the bank."

– RMT general secretary Mick Cash

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Arriva Rail North (Northern), said:

Northern is committed to delivering new trains, faster journeys and better stations for customers.

"We are prepared to guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for the next eight years if we can reach agreement on how our colleagues deliver better customer service using those fantastic new facilities.

"RMT is striking yet again at Northern and on several other train operators. We remain available for talks that are meaningful and clearly focused on how we deliver better customer service in the future."

– Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Arriva Rail North