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Strike FAQs

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The RMT union, which represents many guards on our network, is currently in dispute with Merseyrail in relation to on-board staffing arrangements on the new fleet, set to be introduced on the network in 2020. 

This section is designed to inform you about the dispute, providing background information and practical advice.

Where are you up to in the current dispute?

The RMT union announced a third day of strike action on 30 May, but following the terrorist attack in Manchester on 22 May, this planned action was cancelled.

Have any other strike days been planned?

No, we have not received notification of any other strike days up to now. 

What is the dispute about?

It’s related to on-board staffing arrangements on the new trains, which will enter service in 2020 and replace the current fleet.

The new trains will have some of the most advanced and innovative safety features seen in the UK, and will be faster, more comfortable and more spacious.

Drivers, not guards, will be responsible for opening and closing doors on the new trains, which is already common in the UK and across the world. It is standard practice on the London Underground, Manchester Metrolink and Tyne & Wear Metro.

The new trains will no longer need guards, although around sixty on-board customer service positions will be created. With passenger safety and security our number one priority, the on-board teams will work on the new trains at key locations and times to assist and reassure our customers.

The RMT union, representing many Merseyrail guards, doesn’t support these changes. 

What will happen to guards when their jobs no longer exist?

Subject to successful negotiations with the unions, none of today’s guards or guards’ managers will be forced to leave Merseyrail’s employment. We have pledged that any member of staff who is currently employed as a guard and wants to stay at Merseyrail, will be guaranteed permanent employment in an alternative position once the new trains are introduced.

What are you doing to resolve the dispute?

Merseyrail is always open to constructive dialogue with the RMT, and the two organisations have held several meetings over the last few months. Merseyrail is keen to find some middle ground, proposing the idea of a second person on every train after 8pm in the last meeting. Unfortunately, the RMT was not prepared to negotiate and rejected this offer. However, we remain committed to resolving the dispute and are keen to get back around the table with our union colleagues. 

Do you expect further strikes on the network?

We believe that it is highly likely that there will be more strikes, yes.

When were the previous strikes?

On Monday 13 March and Saturday 8 April, which was Grand National day. 

What level of service were you able to provide on these days?

On the first one, we ran a half-hourly service on most lines from 7am till 7pm, with a break of a few hours in the middle of the day. On the second one, trains were geared to the races, with services very 7½ minutes at key times between Aintree and the centre of Liverpool. There were few trains on other lines, though. 

How did you run trains on strike days without guards?

As part of our contingency planning, we have been training managers to act as guards, and it was these managers that worked as guards on the two strike days.

Were drivers on strike?

No, but they did not cross picket-lines on either strike day, so driver managers drove trains. 

How much notice will you give passengers of a strike day?

We will announce strike days as soon as the RMT notifies us. At the very least, this will be fourteen days in advance. 

Could any further strikes last longer than 24 hours?

Yes, it is possible that future strikes go on for longer than 24 hours.

Did you offer compensation to passengers on strike days?

As a gesture of goodwill, Merseyrail gave a voucher to passengers who had bought certain tickets valid on strikes days before the dates were announced. You can find information about this by contacting the Merseyrail customer relations team

Who can I contact for more information?

Full details of Merseyrail services and rail replacement buses are on the Merseyrail website here, on Twitter (@Merseyrail) and on posters at all stations or call Customer Relations on 0151 555 1111. A booklet covering timetable information and travel advice over the three-day Grand National festival is also available at stations.

For advice and information on alternative transport options visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/railstrike

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