NWBLT CEO welcomes new Northern initiative to resolve damaging strike disruption

Emma Degg, Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) welcomes new Northern initiative to resolve damaging strike disruption. ‘ We welcome this proactive initiative on the part of Northern to seek to resolve the ongoing strike action that has caused so much damage to our region’s economy. We hope both sides can work together to deliver the much needed improvements that are planned to our railways in 2019.’

Northern has formally written to ACAS requesting it to use its powers to establish an independent inquiry into the issues at the heart of RMT’s ongoing dispute with the train operator.

The independent inquiry would look at the future role of the second person that will be on Northern services, in addition to the driver, to help customers with accessibility, security, ticketing, information and any other help required.

The inquiry would also explore the feasibility of Driver Controlled Operation, in which the driver has full operational control of the train, including the train doors.

Northern is calling for the inquiry in a further attempt by the train operator to get RMT involved in discussions to resolve its dispute which is now approaching its second anniversary. The inquiry would have an independent chair and panel members and contributions would be invited from any interested parties.

This Saturday, 22 December, will be RMT’s 41st day of strike action since March 2017. Northern has invited RMT to talks at ACAS on several occasions but without any significant progress being made.

Richard Allan, Deputy Managing Director, Northern, said: “The RMT dispute means customers, businesses and the wider economy in the North have suffered the cost of 40 days of RMT strikes, including every Saturday in September, October, November and now December. Customers, employers and colleagues are looking for both parties to resolve the dispute.

“More than 50% of all rail journeys in the UK are made on driver-controlled trains and recently the Department for Transport and Transport for the North publicly confirmed that a second person – in addition to the driver – would be retained on Northern services.

“This second person will provide customer service, including meeting customer needs on accessibility, safety, security, ticketing and information. Despite this, the RMT continues with its strike action.

“We call on RMT to join us in committing to the inquiry and suspending its industrial action whilst the inquiry takes place. This would demonstrate commitment from both sides to try and resolve the issues, reassuring customers and stakeholders that every endeavour is being made by both sides.”

The inquiry would look at the future role of the second person on the train across the Northern network and explore the feasibility of Driver Controlled Operation, in which the driver has full operational control of the train, including the train doors.

We have promised our conductors that their future role will be on-board our trains, we can guarantee that role until at least 2025, their current pay will be protected (starting salary for conductors is £28,250 pa), and their pay will be reviewed annually, if RMT ends its damaging dispute.