Northern rail workers to hold fresh strike in dispute over guard role

Northern rail staff during the recent walkout.
Northern rail staff during the recent walkout.
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Commuters are facing another day of strike action by Northern rail staff, as the row over the future role of guards shows no signs of letting up.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has instructed its members to strike between 00:01 and 23:59 on Friday April 28 after talks between rail bosses and union chiefs failed to reach agreement.

It will be the third 24-hour strike in the union’s ongoing dispute with Arriva Rail North - which operates the Northern franchise - over the role of guards on trains.

The RMT claims Arriva Rail North has failed to provide assurances in relation to driver-only operation - where drivers are responsible for operating carriage doors - and has pledged to “fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train”.

Northern said it was disappointed by the fresh action, but that robust contingency plans were in place.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “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 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 put on this further day of strike action.

“RMT commends our Arriva Rail North Members on their rock solid display of strength, resolve and unity during the action so far in opposition to the introduction of driver controlled operation and defence of the guards to guarantee a safer, securer and more accessible railway for all.

“The union continues to remain available for meaningful discussions with the company in order to seek a satisfactory resolution to the on-going dispute.”

Northern operates passenger services across the north of England, including in the High Peak from Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, and between Manchester and Glossop/Hadfield.

It also serves stations through the Hope Valley, between Sheffield, Chesterfield and Nottingham, and on the line from Sheffield to Worksop, Retford and Gainsborough.

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: “We are very disappointed that the union has announced strike action for Friday April 28.

“More than anything, we are sorry for the disruption it will again cause our customers, but we have robust contingency plans in place to keep our customers on the move where possible.

“Everyone has a big role to plan in shaping our modernisation plans. There is a lot to discuss and we urge RMT to get back round the table with an open mind as soon as possible.

“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.”