RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has slammed the government for scuppering a deal which could have prevented rail strikes in the run-up to Christmas.
It is now clear that, at the last minute, the government insisted that the letter sent by the train operating companies to the rail unions setting out a potential deal included the imposition of an extension of driver-only operation of trains – in the full knowledge that the RMT could not accept it. The extension of driver-only operation would result in thousands of redundancies among guards, and would be a less safe way of operating – but the government wants to sacrifice safety to save money.
Trains without guards are a problem for many people with mobility difficulties, who would be unable to use the large number of stations that are either unstaffed, or not staffed for part of the day. And many women have voiced concerns about travelling in trains late at night with no guard on board.
Industry commentators have pointed out that it was unnecessary to raise the issue of driver-only operation as part of the dispute settlement, given that it will take many years to put the necessary infrastructure and other measures in place to allow more trains to operate without guards.
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