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  • More strikes announced by Northern Rail workers as lengthy dispute continues

    Henry James

    A NEW round of 24-hour strikes have been announced by Northern Rail workers as part of a lengthy dispute over the train guards role and rail safety.

    Leaders at the RMT Union have published details of the strikes at a time Northern plans to introduce driver-only trains.

    The dispute has been going on more than a year and the strike days will be as follows: Saturday, August 25; Saturday, September 1 and on Saturday, September 8.

    RMT has confirmed the fresh wave of action and the union added that Northern had “made a mockery of the talks process”. The union accused Northern bosses of, “stringing its negotiators along rather than looking seriously for a settlement”.

    RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT committed to talks in good faith with Northern but instead of making progress towards a settlement that matches the best practice in the rail industry as negotiated elsewhere the company have opted instead to play and fast and loose making a mockery of the exercise.

    “Our reps know when they are being strung along and it's that attitude from the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action.

    “RMT members on Arriva Rail North have been in dispute for well over a year now in a battle to put public safety before private profit and we are angry and frustrated that a genuine opportunity to reach an agreement has been kicked back by the company.

    “German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ?to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

    "RMT recently secured an agreement on Greater Anglia that enshrine the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland. Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too.

    “We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”

    Richard Allan, deputy MD, Northern, responded: “The RMT’s announcement of yet more strike action is disappointing and frustrating. This will be a blow for our customers.

    “It comes despite Northern proposing and entering into a joint working party with RMT on the future of the on-board role. We have agreed a terms of reference for those talks, agreed to discuss the RMT’s preferred outcome first and then held four days of talks with RMT in recent weeks. A further day of talks has also been proposed for Friday, August 17."

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