16 May 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT confirms new strike date on Merseyrail in fight to retain safety-critical guards.
RAIL UNION RMT has confirmed a new strike date on Merseyrail after the continued point-blank refusal by the company to make any progress whatsoever over the crucial issue at the heart of the on-going dispute - the future of the safety critical role of the guard.
Drivers and guards will take action as follows:
Members will strike for 24 hours between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Tuesday 30th May.
The union said that it was angry and frustrated that Merseyrail had turned down a union proposal to set up a “safety working group”, alongside outside safety bodies and the train manufacturer Stadler, on the principle that a second safety-critical person would be retained on all services.
RMT’s executive has paid tribute to the Merseyrail members who have taken two days of rock solid action and who have mounted a highly effective picketing operation on those strike days.
RMT General secretary Mick Cash said:
“It is disgraceful that Merseyrail continue to refuse all reasonable attempts by the union to settle this dispute . Merseyrail have repeatedly kicked all conciliatory approaches by RMT negotiators back in our faces and made it crystal clear that all that they are interested in is the union signing a surrender document which gives them a free hand to rip apart the safety culture on the railway.
“It is that cynical and hostile stance from Merseyrail which has left us with no option but to put on this additional strike action. RMT recognises the severe impact that the action will have but we are dealing with an employer that refuses to listen or engage with the union on the critical issue of safe rail operation and we ask the public to understand that we have no option but to take this high-profile action to force the company back to the negotiating table. There is ample time between now and May 30th for genuine talks to take place and for a safe and sustainable deal that protects the future safety across Merseyrail services to be put in place. The company should take up that offer of further talks as a matter of urgency.
“Merseyrail are 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 ball is now firmly in Merseyrail’s court.”