The RMT announces fresh strikes on Southern rail, Arriva Rail North, and Merseyrail in bitter row over driver only operation

Rebecca Smith
The RMT has been embroiled in a long-running row with Southern rail over the issue too
The RMT has been embroiled in a long-running row with Southern rail over the issue too (Source: Getty)

Fresh strike dates have been announced by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union in the row over driver-only operation on new trains.

The union said workers on Southern rail, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North (which trades as Northern), are set to stage a 24-hour strike on Tuesday 30 May, as it says talks have failed to progress the situations.

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The RMT's general secretary Mick Cash said "the sheer intransigence" of Arriva Rail North led to the union calling the action, while saying Merseyrail had "repeatedly kicked all conciliatory approaches by RMT negotiators back in our faces".

Cash called on all three train operators to get back around the negotiating table and on Southern, to "engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues".

Richard Allan, deputy managing director for Northern, said: “We urge RMT to get back round the table with us for open-minded, meaningful talks on the role they can play in delivering the modern railway that people of the North want and deserve.

“We want to protect jobs and current pay and, as we have said before, are willing to offer future, annual pay reviews for existing conductors if we can agree a deal. RMT’s dispute will not be solved by unnecessary strike action – but instead by working with us to deliver the modern trains, services and stations our customers want.”

Andy Bindon, HR Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, Southern’s parent company, said: “We are hugely disappointed that once again the RMT has called a strike, particularly since we put a further reasonable offer to the union today. The RMT’s proposals would mean cancelling trains and reducing service levels to our passengers."

Merseyrail has been approached for comment.

It marks the latest episode over the issue, which has become a serious sticking point for the union, which has aired concerns over the safety of the developments.

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 since spread to other operators too.

Strikes have been held on Arriva Rail North, as well as Merseyrail. A one-day walkout was held on the day of the Grand National last month, across all three train operators.

The RMT held a protest over so-called driver only operation on trains at Westminster last month, marking the first anniversary of the dispute on Southern rail.

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