Posted 29th November 2018 | 7 Comments

Northern strike goes ahead, in spite of RMT offer

UPDATED: THE RMT has offered to suspend industrial action on Northern this weekend, so long as the company agrees to a series of ‘crucial guarantees’ concerning the second crew member on their trains.

The RMT set the company a deadline of midday today if Saturday’s strike was to be called off. Northern welcomed new talks, but said it was already too late to restore the timetable so soon.

Northern managing director David Brown said: ’We’re disappointed that RMT has made this offer too late in the week to restore a normal timetable in time for Saturday.’

‘However, we are pleased that the RMT has subsequently accepted our invitation to get round the table with “no pre-conditions”, in a letter from its general secretary. Following the recent commitment from the Department for Transport and Transport for the North for a second person to be retained on board Northern services, these talks will discuss the evolution of the role of the second person which is essential to improving services for customers.

‘We want to meet the RMT as soon as practicable in the hope that their dispute is suspended in time for us to run a full service on 8 December.”

The conditions which the RMT had set were a ‘100 per cent guarantee’ that no train will run without a second member of staff, that the second crew member will be clearly designated as ‘safety critical’, and that this crew member ‘will retain the full suite of safety and operational competencies of the guard, including a direct role at the platform/train interface and train despatch’.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It is now imperative that the company clarify the role and safety critical status of that second person as set out by our executive.’

The offer came only hours since Transport for the North intervened by appealing for talks to restart between the RMT and Northern. It said it does not support removing a second crew member.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Yep. More strikes are to happen next year. Oh great.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    If the RMT are not going to agree to a rostered guard/"2nd safety qualified person" on every service, with drivers controlling door opening at least (preferably also closing) to avoid delays caused by lengthened station dwell times when this person is distracted (in the middle of selling a ticket, jam packed on a standing room only train, etc.) then the RMT can stick it.
    And yes, as Jeremy says, services SHOULD run if a rostered guard is for some reason unable to be at their starting point on time.

    Didn't the RMT basically agree to this on Greater Anglia ?
    Is this also not the identical offer SWR are making ?

    Northern should take the same path Southern did - introduce a new position starting in a few months and give the current staff first crack at signing up for the jobs under the same conditions of pay as at present (and, presumably as with Southern, the RMT will advise their members to sign up). If they don't want the jobs others will be lining up for them.

  • David Smith, Warminster

    Copied from the RMT website :-

    RMT's policy is for no extension of DOO on any route or service and for the guard to be in full operational control of the power-operated doors.
    The union has also made it clear that the union is totally opposed to any proposals for extending DOO, reducing or abolishing the safety role of the conductor and reducing or abolishing the role of the conductor in operation of the doors.
    RMT general secretary Mick Cash also said;

    “We want to see a guard on every train who is fully safety qualified and operationally trained."

    No flexibility to be seen there, although the RMT was heavily defeated on Southern and accepted driver door operation on the new Anglia trains along with DOO when there is no conductor available.

  • Jeremy Milton, Manchester

    Tell the RMT to stick their offer! Trains should be able to run during disruption or waves of sickness with just a driver.

    Yes, a second member of staff should be fostered, but the role should be revenue protection only.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    So in other words, the RMT isn't changing their stance one iota and this is merely shameless posturing to try and show they are willing to "negotiate". Still an insistence that no train will ever, under ANY conditions, run without a second member of staff if carrying passengers. Just like in the good old days of Queen Victoria.

  • Andrew B, Stockport

    Much as this will be welcomed by passengers who have suffered so much thanks to this ridiculous strike, it's also going to make the RMT incredibly smug and self-important. So expect more strikes over ridiculous things at the drop of any hat.

  • James Richards, Thornbury

    So basically the RMT want Northern to maintain the status quo and then they'll stop the strikes? Is this anything new?