Driver-only dispute talks break down

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There was more misery for Wigan commuters after talks aimed at resolving a dispute at one of the rail companies embroiled in a row about driver-only trains broke down.

Merseyrail said it was “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome of a meeting with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

The company is one of three train operators hit by a 24-hour strike last week in separate disputes about the same issue.

Merseyrail said the RMT had refused to discuss the roles of a new team of on-board staff, or the options open to guards, ahead of new trains due to come into service in 2020.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: “I don’t know why the RMT agreed to our invitation to come in and talk today, unless it was to maintain appearances.

“They took an intransigent position and wouldn’t discuss any of the items we put forward, including the guarantee of continued employment for the existing guards on the same salaries as now, salaries which start at £28,000.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The blame for collapsing crucial talks lies firmly and squarely with Merseyrail who appear to have no interest whatsoever in discussing the core issues at the heart of this dispute.

“Merseyrail’s intransigence and determination to bring in driver-only operated trains at all costs, sees the dispute continue and RMT’s executive will now consider a report from our regional officer and the next steps in our industrial, political and public campaign.”