Six days of rail strikes now planned as dispute rumbles on

A RAIL union has announced three more days of strike action on Arriva Rail North services  as a long-running dispute over guards and rail safety rumbles on.

The RMT union is embroiled in a long-running dispute with Northern Rail over the role of guards on trains.

The Government has guaranteed their jobs for eight years but wants them to lose responsibility for opening and closing the carriage doors.

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The union had previously told its members to strike on three successive Saturdays, from August 25.

Now the RMT has told its members to strike on a further three successive Saturdays from September 15.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has made every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going 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.

"It is the pig headed and arrogant attitude of the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action and to confirm that the strikes planned from Saturday go ahead.

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“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 managing director, Northern, said: “The RMT’s announcement of three more strike days - less than a week since they agreed to ACAS talks - is incredibly frustrating and disappointing. This will be a further blow for our customers.

“We’re trying to fix this dispute. Since the RMT agreed to reconvene the joint steering committee meetings and ACAS mediated talks, we are in the midst of arranging dates to meet.

"We have again urged the union to suspend any planned strikes. Instead, they have chosen to strike on every Saturday in September.”