Talks aimed at ending the long running rail dispute on Northern Rail have collapsed.
The Rail Union RMT said that it had been left “angry, frustrated and determined to fight on in the interests of passenger safety” after Arriva Rail North collapsed ACAS talks aimed at negotiating a settlement to the long-running dispute over the role of the guard and the extension of driver controlled operation.
When the talks eventually convened the union was shocked to hear that there is no process or will from the company to address the unions three fundamental points around the role of a second person on Northern trains.
Specifically, that there will be an absolute guarantee of that member of staff being on board, that they will be safety critical, with the full suite of competencies including despatch at the platform/train interface.
In addition, despite the DfT grandstanding last week there is no assurance on the funding package to underpin the second member of staff, making a mockery of both the talks and the Government statements.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said;
“RMT’s negotiating team arrived at the talks this morning only to find that they were shunted into a side room while the company played for time. They even issued a bulletin to staff making it clear that the ACAS talks were nothing but a stunt on their part to buy a bit of time and try and hoodwink the union into suspending action.
“Even after we eventually got in the room with ARN it was clear that they were either unwilling or unable to address the unions position on the three key points we have set out and the fundamental issues at the heart of the dispute.
“Frankly, it defies belief that despite the spin from the Government last week the very basic issue of a funding package to underpin a second person on Northern trains has been booted into the long grass. That is a disgrace.
“RMT is sick of being treated with contempt and taken for a ride by those at the controls of the basket-case Northern Rail franchise and their paymasters in Government. Their cynical actions have collapsed the talks process and the programme of strike action remains on and the blame for that lies fair and square with the company.”
Richard Allan, Deputy Managing Director at Northern, said: “Today at ACAS talks, Northern went in to the meeting with an open mind and made it clear we wish to continue discussions and all options will be considered that involve the deployment of two members of staff on Northern services.
“Any customer who needs help with access, personal security, information, ticketing and so on will have a member of staff, in addition to the driver, on-board trains to help them.
“On behalf of customers and stakeholders, and in the spirit of working together, Northern would welcome RMT postponing its planned industrial action. We look forward to further talks at ACAS.”