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  • Northern Rail strike called off to allow for talks

    Henry James

    A PLANNED strike by Northern Rail workers for this Saturday (July 21) has been suspended to allow for talks.

    The ongoing dispute, which has been going on for more than a year, is over the role of the guards on trains.

    RMT general Secretary, Mick Cash said: “RMT’s negotiating team has been in talks with Northern over the past week in an attempt to seek a resolution to the long-running dispute.

    “Reports from RMT representatives and correspondence from the company have set out a process for reconvening talks around proposals to set up a joint working party to consider a 'range of options on the deployment of on-board staff, including a specific option of retaining a second safety critical person on board all ARN trains.

    “RMT’s National Executive Committee has noted this situation and has stated that these talks must commence this week. Also, the union’s NEC has instructed our team to negotiate around the guarantee of a second person on every train and their safety critical responsibilities in the first instance.

    “Weekly updates will be given to the RMT NEC on how these talks are progressing.

    “As a result of this situation, the NEC has suspended the industrial action which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 21 and our members are instructed to work as normal on that date.”

    Richard Allan, deputy managing director for Northern, responded: "We are pleased that RMT has agreed to hold talks in a bid to resolve their ongoing dispute and has called off its strike action that was planned for Saturday, July 21, which means that customers can plan their journeys based on a regular Saturday timetable.

    "Northern is modernising local rail for customers, with £500m of new trains under construction, better stations and more services by 2020. We want to work with RMT to design and shape the future on-board role for colleagues to help deliver better customer service."

    Meanwhile there is hope that the driver-only dispute on Merseyrail can be resolved. At the recent conciliation meeting organised by ACAS both the RMT and Merseyrail discussed in detail the outcome of their recent joint workshops, which explored the RMT's hope of having a second safety critical member of staff on the new fleet of trains.

    An ACAS joint statement said: “We will now present to Merseytravel the output of these combined talks and workshops for their consideration. The outcome of the talks will remain confidential until such time that Merseytravel have had time to give these their due consideration.

    “Following this, it is anticipated that both the RMT and Merseyrail will meet for at least one further meeting with ACAS to discuss the considerations from Merseytravel.”

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