7 March 2017
RMT Press Office:
Industrial action begins today on Merseyrail in fight to retain safety-critical Guards.
Industrial action by RMT members on Merseyrail begins today following the continued failure by the company to provide cast iron assurances around the future of the safety critical role of the guard.
RMT members will not work any rest days from 00.01 hrs on Tuesday 7th March indefinitely – this action is in addition to the 24 hour strike on Monday 13th March.
In the ballot last week 81.8% of RMT members on Merseyrail voted for strike action with 93.5% backing action short of a strike.
In addition to the industrial action, the union is kick starting a renewed campaign, involving the general public and targeting politicians across the area served by Merseyrail, aimed at maximising political and public support for RMT’s fight for a guaranteed guard on the company’s services.
RMT General secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our campaign of industrial action kicks off today as our members send the clearest possible message to Merseyrail that RMT is prepared to stand up and fight for public safety and the guard guarantee.
“The union’s position on Driver Only Operation is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any introduction of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train. It is the failure of Merseyrail to give guarantees on those basic principles that has led to the current dispute and the campaign of industrial action.
“RMT has asked Merseyrail to give the union assurances that any new trains will have a second safety critical crew member on board and that the guard will be retained on all services. We set out clear deadlines giving the company ample time to give those assurances but the company have flatly refused to consider a guarantee of a second safety critical person on the new trains”.
“This dispute, and the industrial action that commences from today, were entirely preventable if the company had listened and to the unions deep-seated safety concerns, had taken them seriously and had put passenger safety before profit. The blame for the industrial action, and the disruption it will cause, lies solely at the door of Merseyrail and those who are happy to put private profits before public safety.
“Merseyrail are also completely ignoring the clear wishes of their own passengers, who overwhelmingly oppose the idea of Driver Only Operated trains on their network. That pig-headed attitude has forced the union’s hand and the idea that we would compromise on the fundamental issue of rail safety is absurd. The union remains available for meaningful talks and we would expect Merseyrail to take up that offer as a matter of urgency.”