Unions stages 39th walkout in Northern guards dispute

Unions are yet again striking this weekend as the dispute over rail guards continues
Unions are yet again striking this weekend as the dispute over rail guards continues

Rail workers were said to be solidly supporting the latest strike in the long-running dispute over guards on trains, disrupting travel on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) walked out for the 39th time since the row started.

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Only around a third of trains were running and services will end early.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "I want to pay tribute to RMT members across Northern Rail on this 39th day of strike action.

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"It is their sheer guts and resilience that has kept the fight for safe and accessible rail travel for all across the Northern franchise in the spotlight while the company continue to duck and dive and refuse to face up to the key issues.

"It has only been the resilience of RMT members and our supporters from the travelling public whose solidarity and determination have been instrumental in getting the focus of the dispute back on to the guarantee of a second person on the train.

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"It is deeply disappointing that the company failed to treat the talks this week in a serious manner that could have moved the issues forward.

"We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding in a dispute which is about putting rail safety before private profit."

Richard Allan, Northern's deputy managing director, said: "We can assure all our customers that there will be a suitably trained and qualified Northern employee on the train, in addition to the driver, who will be able to help any customer who needs support with access, personal security, information, ticketing and so on.

"We have promised our conductors that their future role will be on-board our trains, we can guarantee that role until at least 2025, their current pay will be protected (starting salary for conductors is £28,250 pa), and their pay will be reviewed annually, if RMT ends its damaging dispute.

"This assurance for customers and conductors alike means there is no reason for RMT to continue these strikes, which are causing problems for customers, businesses and the wider economy."

More strikes are planned for the next few Saturdays.