Union announces fresh strike action on Lancashire rail services

Northern Rail services will be hit by strike action
Northern Rail services will be hit by strike action

Rail passengers face more misery as guards prepare to stage a three day strike as part of an ongoing dispute.

The RMT has announced a new three day walkout at Northern as part of a row over the introduction of driver only operations.

The strike action will go ahead on Saturday July 8, Sunday July 9 and Monday July 10.

The union is opposed to the company's plans to remove guards from half of all services claiming passenger safety will be compromised.

Northern, which is part of the Arriva group, itself owned by German state railway Deutsche Bahn, has agreed the changes in it's franchise deal with the Department for Transport (DfT). It insists the majority of services will still run with a second staff member onboard.

Talks have been ongoing since last year and RMT members have already staged a series of one-day walkouts.

The union said it was angry and frustrated that the company has set impossible pre-conditions on future talks and has rejected point blank every attempt to try and broker a safe and sustainable settlement to the dispute.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The sheer intransigence of Arriva Rail North means that we have no option but to confirm a further round of strike action .

"The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company.

"We are angry and frustrated that Arriva continue to face up to the facts and also continue to ignore a perfectly reasonable union proposal to invite the DfT to join us in three way talks aimed at finding a solution. Instead, they have chosen to up the ante by demanding that RMT attends talks solely to discuss the implementation of plans the company know we are wholly opposed to. That is a total disgrace.

“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 that flagrant disregard for the safety issues at the heart of the dispute which leaves us with no option but to press on with the campaign of strike action.

“RMT commends our Arriva Rail North Members on their rock solid display of strength, resolve and unity during the action so far in opposition to the introduction of driver controlled operation and defence of the guards to guarantee a safer, securer and more accessible railway for all. We have no doubt that they our members will remain united and determined as we prepare for the next phase of action in a fortnight.

“The union continues to remain available for meaningful discussions with the company in order to seek a satisfactory resolution to the on-going dispute.”

Bosses at Northern say they are disappointed at the union's announcement.

Richard Allan, Northern's deputy managing director, said: “We are deeply disappointed and hugely frustrated that RMT is choosing to cause more pain for our colleagues and customers rather than get round the table to talk first. Only this week we wrote to RMT again, urging them to engage in meaningful modernisation talks with us. We have been clear that for all our conductors we are prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay, and continue with annual pay reviews, if we can reach agreement with RMT.

“The RMT’s dispute will be solved by talking, not by unnecessary strike action which impacts our customers, our employees, businesses and the economy of the North. Should the RMT strike action go ahead, we are committed to keeping our customers on the move as much as possible.”

During past disputes Northern has been able to operate around half its normal timetabled services.

Virgin and Transpennine Express will not be affected.