Northern Rail recruiting train guards whilst being in dispute with them

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/northern-rail-looking-train-conductors-15382492

And isn’t this the very section of its workforce that Northern seems to be in almost permanent dispute with via the RMT trade union due to this franchise operator’s wish to run trains without train guards?!

Second member of staff to be on all new Merseyrail trains as RMT win long running battle

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/merseyrail-abandons-driver-only-trains-15096827

A dispute started by politicians has been won by the trade union they took on and eventually lost to.

Whilst Merseyrail, the train operator, was in effect dumped on and made to take on the RMT by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) the real battle was always with the politicians of the Liverpool City Region. The fact is the politicians lost because they never had the backing of the travelling public who clearly wanted a second person on each and every Merseyrail train.

RMT Trade union’s ‘Keep the Guards Campaign’ 1, leading Merseyside politicians Nil. Oh yes and it was our local Labour political leaders whom the RMT took on and beat.

With thanks to Keith Page and Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Merseyrail – RMT Guards Dispute – The other side of the coin

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of this industrial dispute about driver only operated trains.

Yesterday I published the RMT press release following the break down of talks with Merseyrail over the loss of guards on Merseyrail trains. So to be balanced here is the Merseyrail press release too.

Having been involved in employment relations for many years neither press release surprises me and both are skilled in the art of propaganda. The real issue is however where do the facts sit in this propaganda war?


Merseyrail Disappointed That RMT Walks Away From Substantial Offer On Staffing Evening Trains

Following an invitation from Merseyrail to hold meaningful negotiations about the introduction of new trains, the RMT and Merseyrail met today, for the second time in 11 days.

“We are committed to bringing an end to this dispute and to ensure that we introduce our new trains in a way that works for our passengers and staff”.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde
Managing Director

Commenting on the talks, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said:

‘We met with our colleagues in the RMT today. We are pleased that we got around the table again and continued talking.

‘We are committed to bringing an end to this dispute and to ensure that we introduce our new trains in a way that works for our passengers and staff. We know, for example, that our passengers value a visible on-board staffing presence when travelling late at night, despite our network being one of the safest in the country. In the talks which took place just over a week ago, we tabled a number of ideas to find a way forward to provide reassurances to our staff and passengers, including some proposals to deploy a member of staff on trains after 8pm.

‘We are therefore disappointed that, despite putting these late night train staffing proposals on the table, the RMT have apparently not moved from their original position, and therefore we anticipate they will call further strike dates. We at Merseyrail are trying hard to create some middle ground so that the negotiation can move forward. It is clear that the RMT are unwilling to move from their entrenched position.

‘We will now prepare for the next strike action in order to provide the best possible service for our customers, but will keep the door open for the RMT to re-join talks with us.’

For me the real issue here is not what either the RMT or Merseyrail are saying because the heart of this dispute is a decision made by Merseytravel, the public sector transport Committee for Merseyside. As I have said many times before they created the dispute by confirming an order for new trains that will run without train guards. Both Merseyrail and the Guards RMT union are in effect victims of that decision.

The other interesting part of this dispute is that Merseyside residents seem to be generally behind the RMT union and supportive of the industrial action they are taking. That should worry the Labour-run Transport Committee who it seems locals must feel are the cause of the industrial unrest.

Merseyrail – RMT Guards Dispute – Talks collapse as employer rejects compromise says union

Below is the press release from the train guard’s union RMT following the collapse of talks which were aimed at finding a solution to the bitter dispute on Merseyrail over the hugely controversial removal of guards from local trains.

I have covered this matter many times before. My last posting on this subject can be accessed via the link below:-

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of this industrial dispute about driver only operated trains.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/18/merseyrail-so-how-many-customer-service-staff-will-replace-the-train-guards-under-merseytravels-plans/

Merseyrail guards talks collapse as company rejects compromise

TALKS AIMED at ending the Merseyrail guards’ dispute collapsed today when the company flatly refused to discuss RMT’s compromise proposal.

The union had refrained from calling more strike action on Merseyrail to coincide with strikes in separate disputes at Arriva Rail North and Virgin East Coast, in order to give the talks a fair wind.

But RMT’s offer to put the contentious issue of train despatch and door operation into a joint safety working-group was rejected out of hand by Merseyrail bosses, who know that the Merseyside public will be left to pick up the bill for the dispute, thanks to a reimbursement clause hidden in their contract.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“We held off from calling further strike action on Merseyrail to give these talks a chance, but our good faith has been thrown straight back in our faces and once more all they wanted to discuss was the terms of our surrender.”

“Our negotiating team put forward a compromise that would have allowed us to talk about guaranteeing a second safety-critical crew member aboard every train separate to the issue of train despatch and door control.

“We offered to accept recommendations on despatch and door control from a safety working group that would include the company, the unions, the manufacturers and the safety agencies, if Merseyrail accepted the principle of a second safety-critical crew-member on every train.”

Regional Organiser John Tilley, who led the RMT negotiating team, said:

“It is difficult to understand why Merseyrail invited us to talks in the first place, as they have not budged even a fraction of an inch.

“Their invitation said that they wanted to see an end to the dispute, but when we got round the table there was still nothing on it but the complete abolition of Merseyrail guards.

“Our proposal would have taken the issue of who opens the doors out of the talks altogether, but the company, which had previously tried to hide behind the politicians, even said it would be disappointed if the new Metro Mayor and city-region authorities ordered a rethink

“That is not just another stab in the back for our members, but a total insult to the Merseyside public who have overwhelmingly supported the campaign to keep guards on Merseyrail.

“We have tried our damnedest to reach a settlement, but Merseyrail’s intransigence leaves us with no alternative but to return to the picket lines.”

I wonder how Merseyrail and their political masters on Labour-run Merseytravel will respond? After all it was the political decision made by Merseytravel to confirm an order for new trains without the need for them to be operated with train guards that signaled (sorry could not resist that one) the start of this dispute.

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this posting

Merseyrail – The continuing RMT dispute & an interesting short video of the new trains that have sparked it

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Train

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyrail-hit-strike-grand-national-12775553

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

Can’t help thinking that Merseytravel (as opposed to Merseyrail) in effect fired the starting gun for this dispute by not finding an agreement with the guards union RMT before they ordered trains that would operate without guards.

Merseyrail – RMT Guards vote for Industrial Action

The present Merseyrail rolling stock (Class 507/8 EMU’s) at Southport Station.

Below is the RMT Union notice which was sent to members of the Merseytravel Committee today:-

RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that members have voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike in a ballot for industrial action after Merseyrail’s continued failure to provide cast iron assurances around the future of the safety critical role of the guard.

Action has by RMT’s Merseyrail guards and drivers has been confirmed as follows: Members not to book on for any shifts between 0001hrs and 23.59 hrs on Monday 13th March. In addition members will not work any rest days from 00.01 hrs on Tuesday 7th March indefinitely.

81.8% of members voted for strike action with 93.5% backing action short of a strike.

In addition, 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:

“This ballot result sends out the clearest possible message to Merseyrail, Merseytravel and politicians across the area that RMT is prepared to stand up and fight for public safety and the guard guarantee. The company now has the best part of two weeks to sit down with us, address the core issues at the heart of this dispute and negotiate a settlement before the action commences.

“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 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 announced 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.”

I can’t say that this has come as any surprise at all as Merseytravel, the public sector body that controls the Merseyrail Train Franchise, all but invited the strike in my view by choosing to purchase new trains which will be DOO – Driver Only Operated.

Like many I view this move towards taking away train guards with great scepticism as I don’t think Merseytravel have convinced anyone so far that it will actually lead to a safer local rail network for Merseyside. It does not help that Merseytravel seem to have differing answers to the question why they have decided to go down the route of Driver Only Operation. But of course I also view with horror the prospect of an industrial dispute and railway strikes such as that which is presently ongoing in the South East of England over this very issue.

I suspect this dispute has a long way to run and the victims of it will be the travelling public and Merseyrail staff it seems.

My thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this posting.