Last-ditch talks to be held in bid to avert rail strikes


Last-ditch talks aimed at averting some of the strikes planned on the railways next week will be held on Wednesday.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said it will be meeting senior managers from South Western Railway and Arriva Rail North to try to find a solution to the long-running dispute over the role of guards.

A series of strikes is due to be held next week at both companies as well as on Southern, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia.

The union said that proposed talks with Southern, where the dispute has been on-going for 20 months, "collapsed".

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT will enter the talks with South Western Railway and Arriva Rail in good faith and seeking an agreement which guarantees a guard on their trains and protects the safety, security and access of the travelling public.

"If we can secure that kind of agreement in Scotland and Wales there is no reason at all why we can't do the same in England.

"The union is angry and frustrated that our efforts to get talks back under way with Southern over 20 months into our dispute with the company have been kicked back in our faces when it looked like we were making some progress. RMT will continue to press all of the rail companies for genuine and meaningful talks in each of the separate disputes over safety and the role of the guard."

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway, parent company of Southern, said: "We have consistently said that we will not meet the RMT while they are planning strike action.

"Far from being reluctant to make progress, we invited them to talks on December 20 and within hours this was rebuffed with an RMT announcement of fresh strike action for January 8."