Saturday rail strikes in Wigan to continue until end of December

A Northern train
A Northern train

Wigan train passengers will face strike action on Saturdays until the end of the year.

Trade union the RMT has confirmed Northern employees will down tools every weekend until December 29 as part of a marathon dispute over retaining or axing the guards.

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In total a further seven strike days have been announced in a major escalation of the conflict.

That means there will be 24-hour walk-outs to resist driver-only operation on the train operator's routes, which include services going through both Wigan Wallgate and Wigan North Western, on November 17, November 24, December 1, December 8, December 15, December 22 and December 29.

Northern employees are already instructed to strike tomorrow (Saturday November 3), which will be the 34th day of industrial action, and next weekend on November 10.

The move will inevitably lead to more travel disruption for Wiganers at weekends.

The industrial action has already caused problems for residents getting to major events including last month's Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Announcing the latest strike days the union launched a withering attack on the train operator, accusing it of refusing to negotiate.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT continues to make every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going with Northern but the company is not interested and would prefer to continue to bury their heads in the sand regardless of the impact on the travelling public.

“German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

“RMT has secured agreements on other English franchises that enshrine the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland. Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too.

“We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”