November rail misery on the cards as RMT announces new wave of strikes across five train companies

 
Rebecca Smith
South Coast Commuters Travel In To London On The Second Three-Day Southern Rail Strike
The RMT is in dispute with train firms over the role of the guard (Source: Getty)

Workers on Southern rail, South Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North will stage fresh strikes in November over the ongoing row regarding the role of the guard.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced today that a 48-hour walkout will be staged from 8 November on Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia, while workers on Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North will strike for 24 hours on 8 November.

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RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action in early November."

A spokesperson for Southern's parent firm Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: "We are very disappointed by this unnecessary RMT strike action and the union’s continued refusal to engage with us in modernising the railway. We expect to run a normal service on most of our routes during the RMT strike days.

"Modernisation is urgently required to make lasting improvements and increase capacity on this, the busiest part of the UK railway, where passenger numbers have doubled in 12 years. As well as better infrastructure and new trains, we have updated working practices to make the most of new technology and improve services for passengers. The RMT needs to play its part if passengers are to benefit from service improvements."

The fresh batch of strike action comes after the RMT earlier called on train drivers' union Aslef to reject a five-year pay deal agreed with Southern rail that would bring an end to its dispute with the company.

Last week it was announced that Aslef had struck a deal with GTR in their long-running industrial dispute, that would see drivers receive a 28.5 per cent pay rise over the next five years. The RMT was not involved in the negotiations.

The resolution will be put to members at Southern rail in a referendum with a recommendation from the union's executive committee to accept. The decision on that is due on 8 November too.

The dispute on Southern has been drawn out over 17 months, regarding changes to the role of the guard and implementation of so-called driver-only operated trains. The row has since spread to other train firms, with the RMT now embroiled in disputes with four other train operators too.

Aslef has said its proposed agreement with Southern means there will be "a second safety-trained person on every train covered by this agreement except in exceptional circumstances", marking a "complete resolution" of the union's long-standing issues with the train company.

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