RMT's row over role of the guard to spread as it ballots Arriva Rail North workers for strikes

 
Rebecca Smith
The union said its position on
The union said its position on "driver-only operation" is perfectly clear (Source: Getty)

Southern rail and Aslef union might have struck a deal in the long-running dispute over the role of the guard (subject to a members' referendum), but the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is yet to follow suit.

And now it's balloting workers on Arriva Rail North for strikes in another row over the role of the guards, which could mean the spread of industrial action across the country, if workers vote for walkouts.

The union remains in dispute with Southern rail over the role of the guard too.

Read more: Aslef says there are "serious misunderstandings" over Southern rail deal

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The union’s position on driver-only operation (DOO) is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train."

He said the union hadn't been given the guarantees it was after from Arriva Rail North.

“This dispute, and the ballot for industrial action, were entirely preventable if the company had listened to the unions deep-seated safety concerns, had taken them seriously and had put passenger safety before profit," Cash added. “The union remains available for talks.”

A spokesperson for Arriva Rail North said:

We are in the early stages of developing our modernisation plans to bring customers a better railway, so we believe the RMT is extremely premature in calling a ballot for strikes.

During our discussions this week we offered commitments to consult fully with our people, customers and key stakeholders. We want to protect jobs and pay as we work together to provide safe, secure and accessible services for our customers.

We want to continue talking with the RMT.

Read more: We have a deal: Southern rail resolves long-running dispute with Aslef

While the RMT has agreed to meet Southern rail for fresh talks in their dispute over the role of the guard, it has called the deal struck by Aslef and Southern "a shocking and historical betrayal".

The union has also reiterated its request that the train operator commit to a second safety critical member of staff on every train.

Long-suffering commuters will be hoping love is in the air on 14 February when representatives from Southern and the RMT meet for fresh talks...

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