Merseyrail staff announce pre-Christmas walkout over guard dispute

Image of the new train Image copyright Merseytravel
Image caption Merseyrail plans to introduce a new fleet of driver only-operated trains from 2020

Merseyrail workers will stage a pre-Christmas strike in a long-running dispute over the role of guards.

The RMT union confirmed that staff will stage a 24-hour walkout on 22 December, disrupting services in and around Liverpool.

The union said the row could be "easily resolved" if senior Merseyside Labour politicians followed the party's national policy.

Merseyrail said the strike was timed for the busiest time of the year.

'Independent conciliation'

The RMT is in dispute with the train company over plans to make trains driver-only operated (DOO).

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said "Our members on Merseyrail are angry that senior Labour figures have chosen to ignore party policy on driver only operation to side with the private company rather than our safety-critical guards.

"If those politicians had taken a positive and proactive stance, like their colleagues in Wales and Scotland, we could move towards a solution to this dispute which puts safety first."

Merseyrail plans to introduce a new fleet of 52 (DOO) trains from 2020.

The industrial action will be the latest in a series of strikes from Merseyrail staff, including a 48-hour walkout in September.

Merseyrail's managing director Andy Heath said: "This strike just before Christmas is timed to take place at the busiest time of the year, with people out Christmas shopping, attending festive events, and many commuters still going to work before the holiday period starts."

He said like previous walkouts it will "endeavour to provide as many trains as possible" with "timetable details disclosed over the next week or so".

He added: "At the request of the metro mayor [Steve Rotheram] Merseyrail has agreed to independent conciliation with the RMT, with no pre-conditions."

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