Merseyrail workers in the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) are set to stage a two-day strike this week, held between 0:01 and 23:59 on Tuesday the 3rd and Thursday the 5th of October. They join employees of Southern Rail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia, following continuing rows over the role of train guards. These will follow walkouts held earlier this year.
Plans have been made to transform Britain’s rail services with a fleet of driver-only operated trains from 2020, taking away the role of the guard. The move would threaten over 200 jobs in the Merseyside area and has been disputed since it was first announced in 2015.
General secretary of the RMT Mark Cash has denounced the “disgraceful” treatment of union members by the company. Speaking about the planned action last week, he announced that “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.”.
Cash claims that union members have been left with “no option” except further strike action, whilst continuing to call for “genuine talks to take place around a safe and sustainable deal”.
There has been public support for the protest after one Merseyrail passenger, Ellie Ward, began a petition to save the jobs of guards that gained 14,000 signatures. This came after her experience taking the train home from a night out, where a guard helped her and another woman stay safe from a predatory fellow passenger.
It has been confirmed that the strike will coincide with the first phase of upgrades being made to Lime Street Station, begun on Sepember 30th. There are fears the combination of the two will bring further disruption to transport services for thousands of passengers. The Merseyrail website is offering details of alternate transport for those affected by the strike.
Featured Image courtesy of merseyrail.gov.uk