RMT secures ‘major breakthrough’ in Merseyrail dispute

Merseyrail train
Credit: Merseyrail

RMT has suspended all action in the dispute on Merseyrail after the company put down an offer that guarantees both a guard on the train and the safety-critical role of that guard in the despatch process.

This ensures the safest possible method by having guards close the train doors at the platform/train interface.

The breakthrough offer comes after nearly three years of political, industrial and public campaigning by the union and intense negotiations between RMT and the company that ran late into Friday evening.

The Merseyrail proposals have been examined at a meeting of RMT reps and the union’s National Executive and represent significant movement on the crucial despatch issue.

There is further work to do, getting the fine details sorted, however, the union is committed to the despatch procedure.

What did the officials say?

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

“Today’s breakthrough in the long-running Merseyrail guards’ dispute has been achieved after nearly three years of hard political, industrial and public campaigning and I want to pay tribute to RMT members who have been prepared to put themselves on the line at significant personal cost to defend safety and accessibility on the railway. The progress that has been achieved has been extraordinary. We have pushed back from the threat of wholesale Driver Only Operation across Merseyrail to not only a guarantee of a guard on every train but a guarantee that that guard will retain a safety-critical role in the despatch process including the most operationally safe method of guards closing the doors at the platform/train interface. That is a significant development that will resonate throughout the rail industry.

“I want to thank our negotiating team, led by our Regional Organiser John Tilley, who have worked tirelessly to pin down the crucial movement that has resulted in this offer which gives us enough in principle to suspend all planned action in the dispute. There is some further work to do now around the fine detail but the union remains committed, as we have been right from the start, to getting a final deal over the line that protects both the guard and their safety-critical role on Merseyrail trains.”

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