Union announces three more strikes on Merseyrail in July

Train services between Chester and Liverpool will be affected

Merseyrail(Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

There will be three more 24-hour walk-outs on Merseyrail services in July, union bosses have announced.

Staff who are in The Rail and Maritime Transport union (RMT) will strike on Saturday, July 8, Monday, July 10 and Sunday, July 23

The union is involved in a bitter row with Merseyrail over its plans to remove the role of on-board guards from its trains.

If they go ahead, it will mean the union will have held five separate strikes since the announcement that Merseyrail will be bringing in a new fleet of driver-controlled trains in 2020, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The firms says the new trains, with doors operated solely by drivers, will remove the need for the 220 current Merseyrail guards.

All affected staff members have been offered alternative roles on their current terms - but the RMT says the positions are “safety critical”.

Fractured talks have been ongoing for many months - but with little progress made.

The RMT said it is “angry and frustrated” that Merseyrail continues to turn down a union proposal to set up a “safety working group” along with outside safety bodies and the train manufacturer Stadler, on the principle that a second safety-critical person would be retained on all services.

RMT General secretary Mick Cash said: “It is disgraceful that Merseyrail continue to refuse all reasonable attempts by the union to settle this dispute.

“Merseyrail have repeatedly kicked all conciliatory approaches by RMT negotiators back in our faces and made it crystal clear that all that they are interested in is the union signing a surrender document which gives them a free hand to rip apart the safety culture on the railway.

“It is that cynical and hostile stance from Merseyrail which has left us with no option but to put on this further round of strike action.

“RMT recognises the severe impact that the action will have but we are dealing with an employer that refuses to listen or engage with the union on the critical issue of safe rail operation and we ask the public to understand that we have no option but to take this high-profile action to force the company back to the negotiating table.

“There is ample time between now and July 8 for genuine talks to take place and for a safe and sustainable deal that protects the future safety across Merseyrail services to be put in place. The company should take up that offer of further talks as a matter of urgency.”

Responding to the announcement, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: "Although we brought several new initiatives to the table in the last round of talks, the RMT is unprepared to work with us to find middle ground.

"As well as guaranteeing a job to all guards who wish to stay at Merseyrail under the same terms and conditions, once the new trains arrive in 2020, we also put on the negotiating table a member of customer service staff on every train after eight o’clock at night.

"The strike on Sunday 23 July is timed to cause maximum disruption to people attending the last day of the Open Golf at Royal Birkdale.

"At a time of heightened fears of terrorism, it beggars belief that RMT are prepared to disrupt this event and make protection of the crowds more difficult for us and our colleagues in the police and security services.

"They are striking during the weekend (July 8) where Liverpool is proudly hosting the British Style Collective for the first time– an event that’s bringing much excitement and profile to the Liverpool City Region.

"While we, as always, will do our best to minimise disruption, our passengers should not be made to suffer at the hands of the RMT, and the Liverpool City Region should not be caught in the cross-fire of a national dispute directed by unions in London."

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