Northern strike goes ahead, in spite of RMT offer

UPDATED: THE RMT has offered to suspend industrial action on Northern this weekend, so long as the company agrees to a series of ‘crucial guarantees’ concerning the second crew member on their trains.

The RMT set the company a deadline of midday today if Saturday’s strike was to be called off. Northern welcomed new talks, but said it was already too late to restore the timetable so soon.

Northern managing director David Brown said: ’We’re disappointed that RMT has made this offer too late in the week to restore a normal timetable in time for Saturday.’

‘However, we are pleased that the RMT has subsequently accepted our invitation to get round the table with “no pre-conditions”, in a letter from its general secretary. Following the recent commitment from the Department for Transport and Transport for the North for a second person to be retained on board Northern services, these talks will discuss the evolution of the role of the second person which is essential to improving services for customers.

‘We want to meet the RMT as soon as practicable in the hope that their dispute is suspended in time for us to run a full service on 8 December.”

The conditions which the RMT had set were a ‘100 per cent guarantee’ that no train will run without a second member of staff, that the second crew member will be clearly designated as ‘safety critical’, and that this crew member ‘will retain the full suite of safety and operational competencies of the guard, including a direct role at the platform/train interface and train despatch’.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It is now imperative that the company clarify the role and safety critical status of that second person as set out by our executive.’

The offer came only hours since Transport for the North intervened by appealing for talks to restart between the RMT and Northern. It said it does not support removing a second crew member.

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