Three more days of rail strikes announced in Sheffield as guard row rumbles on

Rail workers have announced a further three days of strike action in the ongoing row over the role of train guards.

Union RMT has announced its Northern Rail workers will walk out on three Saturdays, October 27 and November 3 and 10.

Sheffield railway station.

Sheffield railway station.

The new strike dates come as members prepare to hold a 31st day of action tomorrow – affecting rugby league fans hoping to travel to the Super League Grand Final between Wigan and Warrington.

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RMT union said that Northern was refusing to engage in serious and meaningful talks around the guard guarantee that could form the basis for a settlement.

But Arriva North, which operates Northern trains, said the decision for new strikes is 'incredibly frustrating and disappointing.'

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “RMT continues to make every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going with Northern but the company are not interested and would prefer to continue to bury their heads in the sand regardless of the impact on the travelling public.

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“German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

“RMT has secured agreements on other English franchises that enshrine the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland.

“Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too. We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”

Richard Allan, deputy managing director for Northern, said: “RMT’s latest announcement will mean Northern’s customers have had to endure strikes every Saturday in September, October and now in to November – this is incredibly frustrating and disappointing, and is a further blow for our regional economy.

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“The RMT changed its mind about what it would discuss between the first and second meetings at ACAS, making it impossible to progress. We have offered to explore all options, including those RMT has agreed with other train operators, but they refuse to discuss these with Northern for reasons known only to them.

“We urge the RMT to suspend strikes, and get back round the table to talk about the options they agreed to discuss in the first meeting at ACAS. In the meantime, we will work towards running as many services as possible to minimise disruption for our customers.”