Liverpool

Merseyrail pre-Christmas strikes called off after 'breakthrough'

Merseyrail train Image copyright Merseytravel
Image caption The dispute relates to the role of guards on Merseyrail's new fleet for 2021

Strike action on the Merseyrail network has been called off after a "major breakthrough" in a long-running dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

In the latest series of walk-outs, staff planned to strike every Saturday for nine weeks from 2 November.

All action has now been suspended after the company made an offer guaranteeing a guard on every train, said the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

Merseyrail said it would now work towards a final deal with the union.

Industrial action on the network began in 2017 following the introduction of DOOs - where drivers close doors instead of guards.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the new offer was a "significant development".

"We have pushed back from the threat of wholesale driver-only operation across Merseyrail to not only a guarantee of a guard on every train but a guarantee that that guard will retain a safety-critical role."

The latest proposals were discussed at a meeting of RMT reps and the union's national executive.

Merseyrail managing director Andy Heath said: "I am pleased that after consideration the RMT's National Executive Committee have endorsed the latest proposal in principal and, at the same time, have given our customers, shoppers and traders the benefit of the lead-up to Christmas being strike-free by suspending the planned nine days of strikes."

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