Southern, Northern and Mersey punished for removing guards
BRITAIN’S rail networks face further disruption after strikes were announced yesterday in three separate disputes over the removal of safety-critical guards from trains.
Members of rail union RMT who work for Southern Rail, Arriva Rail North and Mersey Rail will take industrial action in September as bosses refuse to back down over plans to introduce driver-only operated trains across their respective franchises.
The strikes were announced following an RMT executive meeting yesterday where top union officials paid tribute to its members taking action across the three networks.
The union’s high profile campaign to keep guards on trains has been widely supported by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) due to the critical role guards play in assisting disabled people on the rail network.
Southern Rail bosses, who have been engaged in the longest of the three disputes, snubbed RMT’s latest proposal of four way talks involving all parties “to iron out a resolution.”
The union called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to intervene and “get his contractors in line as a matter of urgency.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said Southern’s failure to respond to the offer of talks left no option but to call further strike action.
“RMT has a clear plan for resolving this dispute but that requires round table talks now to push forward. This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer,” he said.
Southern guards and driver members have been instructed not to book on for shifts between Friday September 1 and Monday September 4.
Arriva Rail North will be hit by two days of strike action from September 1 after bosses refused to discuss the core issue of a second safety-critical member of staff on its trains.
And RMT drivers and guards are set to strike on Merseyrail from September 1-4.
Mr Cash accused bosses of wanting RMT to sign a “surrender document” giving them a “free hand to rip apart the safety culture on the railway.”
RMT said it remained available for talks to resolve all three disputes.
Rail workers will also stage nationwide protests on Monday to mark the First Group/MTR takeover of the South West trains franchise while refusing to guarantee retaining the guard.
The Department for Transport had not responded to the Star’s request for comment at time of going to print.