Arriva Rail North strike to go ahead on Friday as RMT holds demonstration in Westminster against driver only operation

Rebecca Smith
The RMT union has been in a year-long dispute with Southern rail over the role of the guard
The RMT union has been in a year-long dispute with Southern rail over the role of the guard (Source: Getty)

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has announced a 24-hour walkout will go ahead on Arriva Rail North this Friday as the row over the role of train guards continues.

The RMT said talks had failed to progress the situation with the rail operator, which serves the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber.

Read more: Government delays report on Southern rail troubles until after the election

The union has been in dispute with Southern rail over the issue for a year and has been engaged in talks to try and resolve the row, but it has spread to other operators too.

Strikes have been held on Arriva Rail North, which trades as Northern, and on Merseyrail. A one-day walkout was held on the day of the Grand National earlier this month, across all three train operators.

The RMT is also holding a national protest at Westminster today to protest against so-called driver only operation on trains, marking the first anniversary of the dispute on Southern rail.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company. We are angry and frustrated that Arriva have thrown out a perfectly reasonable proposal to invite the DfT to join us in three way talks aimed at finding a solution.

"The public, who support RMT’s campaign for a guarantee of a guard on their trains, will be appalled that Arriva Rail North have failed yet again to offer any kind of progress whatsoever in the talks and have instead opted to try and bulldoze through their plans regardless."

It is that flagrant disregard for the safety issues at the heart of the dispute which leaves us with no option but to press ahead with the campaign of strike action.

Read more: Grand National 2017: How to avoid super strike Saturday when travelling

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Arriva Rail North, said: "It is disappointing that RMT was unwilling to move from its current position during our talks yesterday.

“Our employees want us to talk about changes we need to make to the on-board role as we modernise our railway. We believe we would keep a second person on many of our services and, at some locations, we may choose to staff the station to give better support to customers. In addition to protecting jobs and current pay, we are also willing to offer future, annual pay reviews for existing conductors if we can agree a deal with RMT."

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