16 February 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT strike ballot opens today on Northern Rail over failure to give assurances on guards.
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed that balloting is underway of guards and driver members on Arriva Rail North for both strike action and action short of a strike after the company failed to give assurances on the future role of the guard on their services. More than 1200 staff will be involved in the ballot which will close on the 28th February.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The union’s position on Driver Only Operation (DOO) is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train.
“We asked Arriva Rail North whether they were prepared to guarantee a second person on all passenger services operated by the company and whether that second person would retain full operational responsibility, for train despatch, Platform Train Interface and current rule book requirements for dealing with contingency arrangements, such as evacuation and protection of the train.
“The response from the Company was ‘we are not in a position to offer either of these guarantees at this present time’. This has been particularly disappointing as Arriva Rail North have reneged on their previous position when they stated they ‘were prepared to offer guarantees around a second person on board trains in addition to the driver’.
“This dispute, and the ballot for industrial action, were entirely preventable if the company had listened to the unions deep-seated safety concerns, had taken them seriously and had put passenger safety before profit.
“Ballot papers will go out today with the RMT calling for a resounding Yes vote. The union remains available for talks.”