Merseyrail train guards balloted for strike action

Image of the new train Image copyright Merseytravel
Image caption Merseyrail plans to introduce a new fleet of driver-only-operated trains from 2020

Workers on Merseyrail are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over the role of guards, a union has said.

The firm plans to introduce a new fleet of 52 driver-only-operated (DOO) trains from 2020.

None of the permanent guards or guard managers would be forced to quit their employment, the company said.

RMT union said it was in formal dispute with Merseyrail and its 220 members would be balloted for strike action.

John Tilley, of RMT, said Merseyrail had failed to give cast iron assurances on the future of 220 guards and managers at a meeting on Wednesday, and he "fully expected" members to vote heavily for industrial action.

'No compulsory redundancies'

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train."

He said the train operator had "snubbed" a final chance to avoid the ballot.

He added it was "entirely preventable if the company had listened to the union's deep-seated safety concerns... and had put passenger safety before profit".

Merseyrail said it had "made it clear" that it will look after guards and management whose roles would no longer exist once the new fleet is introduced and there would be no compulsory redundancies.

The train operator said the RMT had demanded there should be a guard on every new train but the new fleet had been designed to operate without guards, and as such, it was not in a position to guarantee this.

The existing Merseyrail fleet, originally designed in the 1950s, is almost 40 years old.

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