MERSEYRAIL says the RMT has agreed to attend independent conciliation talks on Thursday, in a bid to settle the long-running dispute over future driver-only operation on the network which has already caused a number of disruptive strikes.
Merseyrail human resources director Jane English said: “It’s early days yet in the process but I am pleased that the RMT has taken this first step in endorsing independent conciliation as a means to getting an end to this dispute.”
“On behalf of guards and the public and after several months since the original recommendation of independent conciliation I am pleased that the RMT has now taken up the offer, where all options will be considered to achieve a resolution.”
New trains for Merseyrail do not include a conventional guards’ position, although the operator is planning to have a second member of staff on board busy trains.
Meanwhile the RMT is stepping up its parallel action on Northern over the same issue. Protests will be held at several stations this week, starting today at Barrow in Furness, Carlisle, Windermere and Whitehaven, marking the second anniversary of the start of the Arriva Northern franchise.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s bad enough that Northern passengers have not seen any sign of the promised improvements but it is unforgivable that Northern are about to make matters worse by getting rid of guards who do so much to assist passenger service, safety and accessibility.
“What is unbelievable is that because Northern is owned by German State railways the German railway will profit and get better on the back of these cuts to northern services and jobs. That is a scandal.
“RMT members will be protesting at stations across the north this week, kicking off today, to highlight our concerns about the attack on jobs and safety by the German state owned northern franchise and we will be calling on the secretary of state for transport to stop supporting these plans and reverse them.”