Strike action will hit Northern train services this weekend.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) trade union have planned to take industrial action on Saturday March 3 over proposed changes to the role of the conductor.
It’s part of a series of walk-outs regarding the dispute with Northern operator Arriva Rail North. Saturday’s industrial action will also affect Merseyrail services.
The train operator says it will reduce the number of services it runs, with most services operating between 7am and 7pm.
RMT says the strike action is in response to the “attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of driver only operation in the name of increased profits”.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with Northern and Merseyrail over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces.
“No one should be in any doubt, these disputes are about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies.
“It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England.
“Theresa May and Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger with eye-watering far increases to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains. If it’s good enough for Wales and Scotland to put safety first then it’s good enough for the rest of the UK.
“RMT remains ready for talks in both of these disputes.”
Richard Allan, Northern’s Deputy Managing Director, said in response to the strike action: “We are delivering our modernisation plans for customers with almost £500m of new trains under construction, £7m spent so far on improving our stations, 70 refurbished trains in service, 400 extra people recruited, and much more to come by 2020.
“We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and hold pay reviews for our 1,300 conductors until the end of our franchise in 2025, with the government guaranteeing jobs beyond that if RMT ends its strike action. RMT has recently rejected our request to hold a fresh ballot of Northern conductors after nearly a year of strike action.
“We are concentrating our efforts on running as many services as possible on Saturday March 3 to keep our customers moving.”
If negotiations fail then Saturday will be the 14th day of industrial action RMT members have taken as part of this dispute.