Responding to the RMT’s indication this afternoon that it may enter into a dispute with Merseyrail, the Liverpool-based rail operator made clear that it will look after guards whose roles would no longer exist once the new fleet is introduced by 2020.
Ensuring passengers feel safe and secure continues to be the number one priority, and the new fleet will see the creation of around sixty customer service positions, working on-board the new trains, to assist and reassure passengers.
Merseyrail’s managing director
At the meeting that took place today between Merseyrail and the RMT, the trade union demanded that there should be a guard on every new train. However, the new fleet has been designed to operate without guards, and as such, the company is not in a position to guarantee this.
Discussions were cordial, and we reminded the RMT that:
- Any member of staff who is currently employed as a guard and wants to stay at Merseyrail, will be guarenteed employment in an alternative position once the new trains are introduced.
- Any employee in a guard's job who, through the introduction of new trains, is redeployed into another job will retain their rate of pay and the associated conditions in the new role, in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment.
- There will be no changes to guards' jobs till the new fleet is brought into service in a few years' time.
Merseytravel announced in December that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority had authorised the procurement of the new fleet for the Merseyrail network, stating that:
- None of today's guards or guards' managers will be forced to leave Merseyrail's employment.
- The Liverpool city region needs and deserves new trains, which will be modern, safe, faster and comfortable with more capacity to support the economic growth of a modern city region.
- The new trains will be safer than the ones they replace - and there will still be staff on board focusing on customer duties.
- The new trains are affordable, will be in public ownership, and Merseyrail will make no additional profit from them.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: ‘Ensuring passengers feel safe and secure continues to be the number one priority, and the new fleet will see the creation of around sixty customer service positions, working on-board the new trains, to assist and reassure passengers.
‘All forms of train despatch, whether with or without a guard, require appropriate safety control measures. With these in place, evidence from the industry safety authorities demonstrates that the safety record of trains without guards is as good as those with guards.’
We are disappointed that strikes on our network appear more likely, but respect the union’s right to take lawful industrial action. We remain committed to avoiding a strike, and emphasised to the RMT today that we are keen to continue negotiations with them.
Irrespective of whether industrial action takes place or not, passengers remain at the heart of everything we do, and this will continue to be the case, should we face strikes. We will now focus our attentions on preparing for possible strike days, and attempt to run a service which will cause as little disruption as possible to our customers.