A NEW strike over on-train staffing is disrupting local and regional train services across the north of England.
Members of the RMT employed by the Arriva franchise Northern are staging a further walkout in the long-running dispute over driver-only operation.
The RMT claims that support for its action is ‘rock solid’, while Northern has called for a new strike ballot.
Trains on the Northern network are running only between 07.00 and 19.00. Many services outside those times have been cancelled, with replacement buses running where possible.
The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “German-owned Northern Rail want to run 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 has agreed arrangements in Wales and Scotland that enshrine the guard guarantee. If it's good enough for Wales and Scotland to have safe rail services it should be good enough for the rest of Britain. ARN should get out of the bunker and start talking.”
Northern deputy managing director Richard Allan said: “Our modernisation plans are well underway. We urge RMT to move away from its nationally co-ordinated campaign and allow its local representatives to engage in meaningful discussions with us on how we better serve customers on-board.
“We are still prepared to offer unprecedented guarantees of jobs and pay reviews until the end of our franchise in 2025, with the Government guaranteeing jobs beyond that if RMT ends strike action. RMT has also rejected our request to hold a fresh ballot despite one in five conductors having started in the role since the RMT dispute started, and have therefore never had a vote.
“We are now concentrating our efforts on running as many services as possible.”
Another strike has been called for Maundy Thursday – 29 March.