Rail workers will stage their 32nd strike today – a ninth consecutive Saturday walk-out – in the long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) will mount picket lines outside stations, and the provider will run few trains before 9am or after 6pm.
While rail firms consider driver-only-operated trains in future, union members say guards fulfil a wider safety role and are planning more strikes over the next three Saturdays.
The latest strike comes after the YEP printed a letter from Leeds worker Jack Dart, calling on his MP Imran Hussain to take action, asking: “At what point will the government make a true intervention and either blame these strikes as unlawful or provide a different service which can actually fulfil the needs of the people who elect them?”
John Stewart, RMT union branch secretary for Leeds City said that the strike action is legal because members have been balloted and have fulfilled all the requirements set out by the Government in trade union legislation. He said: “I can assure you not one of the staff that have now taken 31 days of strike action want it to continue anymore than Mr Dart does, but have been left with very little option because the truth of the matter is it can only be sorted by both sides getting around the table and finding a negotiated solution, something that Arriva Rail North have constantly refused to do.”
But Northern has said RMT has made it “impossible to progress” talks, claimed the union changed its mind about what it would discuss between the first and second Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service meetings.
Mr Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said Northern passengers “endure a shockingly substandard rail service” with the “double whammy of rising fares”.