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Union calls more strikes on Arriva Rail North in driver-only trains row

The RMT also announced that a strike on Saturday on South Western Railway has been suspended to allow further talks to be held.

Workers on Arriva Rail North are to stage a series of fresh 24-hour strikes in the bitter row over the role of guards, but a planned walkout on another train operator has been called off.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Arriva (Northern) will walk out on three consecutive Saturdays, August 25 and September 1 and 8, following the failure of talks.

But the union also announced that a strike on Saturday on South Western Railway (SWR) has been suspended to allow further talks to be held.

The union said further strikes on SWR, on August 11, 18 and a 48-hour stoppage from August 31, remained on.

The union has been embroiled in a row over driver-only operation for more than two years and has launched strikes against four train operators still involved, including Arriva Rail North (Northern).

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT committed to talks in good faith with Northern but, instead of making progress towards a settlement that matches the best practice in the rail industry as negotiated elsewhere, the company have opted instead to play fast and loose, making a mockery of the exercise.

Our reps know when they are being strung along and it's that attitude from the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action Mick Cash, RMT union

“Our reps know when they are being strung along and it’s that attitude from the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action.

“RMT members on Arriva Rail North have been in dispute for well over a year now in a battle to put public safety before private profit and we are angry and frustrated that a genuine opportunity to reach an agreement has been kicked back by the company.

“German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety-critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their frontline staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

“RMT recently secured an agreement on Greater Anglia that enshrines the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland. Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too.

“We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”

Mr Cash said there had been a “flurry of correspondence” with SWR this week.

An SWR spokesman said: “We are pleased for our passengers that this strike has been called off to allow further talks to take place. This means we will be running a full Saturday timetable on August 11.”

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: “The RMT’s announcement of yet more strike action is disappointing and frustrating. This will be a blow for our customers.

“It comes despite Northern proposing and entering into a joint working party with RMT on the future of the on-board role. We have agreed a terms of reference for those talks, agreed to discuss the RMT’s preferred outcome first and then held four days of talks with RMT in recent weeks. A further day of talks has also been proposed for Friday August 17.

“Northern is doing everything possible to find a solution to the RMT’s dispute and maintains that talking costs nothing, whilst strike action causes inconvenience to customers and damages the case for long-term investment in rail.”

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