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
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.