Following the announcement that RMT guard members have voted in favour of strike action, Merseyrail has made clear that we will work hard to provide the highest level of service possible under the challenging conditions of future strikes.
The RMT may be intent on blocking even modest modernisation plans such as Driver Controlled Operation (DCO), and watch as other innovations such as driverless cars on our roads overtake railways in the technology stakes. But as a railwayman of 28 years, I’m certainly not happy to let this happen
Merseyrail’s managing director
We have also pledged to do everything we can to bring the dispute to a satisfactory and swift conclusion and are committed to continuing dialogue with the RMT.
Industrial action relates to the new fleet of trains, coming into service during 2020, which will no longer require the role of guards due to the way the trains will be operated. However, around sixty on board customer service positions will be created. Ensuring passengers feel safe and secure continues to be the number one priority, and these people will work on board the new trains, to assist and reassure passengers.
As things stand, none of today’s guards will be forced to leave Merseyrail’s employment. We have promised that any member of staff who is currently employed as a guard and wants to stay at Merseyrail, will be guaranteed permanent employment in an alternative position, on the same terms and conditions as now, subject to successful negotiation between Merseyrail and the relevant trade unions, once the new trains are introduced.
The first strike date is 13 March, and information about services will be available at stations, on our website and social media channels in the coming days. Over the last few weeks, we have been refining our contingency plans for a guards’ strike based on the anticipated resources available, and some managers have been being trained to act as guards.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said:
‘Every industry needs to modernise, otherwise its future is at risk. Urban railways like ours are no different. The advanced technology on the new trains means they will no longer require traditional guards. The elected politicians understood this when they authorised the new trains in December – satisfied that the new trains will be safer than the ones they replace. There will be customer service people, cleaners and security people on board, but not traditional guards.
‘The RMT may be intent on blocking even modest modernisation plans such as Driver Controlled Operation (DCO), and watch as other innovations such as driverless cars on our roads overtake railways in the technology stakes. But as a railwayman of 28 years, I’m certainly not happy to let this happen, and I would urge the RMT to return to the negotiating table to constructively discuss how we can best re-deploy my existing, experienced and hard-working team of guards during 2020 when the new trains arrive.