Future rail strikes set to be avoided after breakthrough in train guards dispute


Picture: GREATER ANGLIA - Credit: Archant

Future rail strikes look set to have been averted after an “important breakthrough” was made to end a long-running dispute with rail guards.

Greater Anglia had been looking to extend driver-only operation of trains, reducing the need for conductors and guards.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has been embroiled in disputes over the role of guards for over two years, with a series of strikes called against five rail operators.

The union held 12 strikes against Greater Anglia in the past year.

But now RMT members have voted by 9-1 on an 80% turnout in favour of a deal the union says “enshrines” the guarantee of a guard on trains.

The union said the deal “calls a halt” to extending driver-only operation of trains and that the Greater Anglia agreement shows what can be agreed through “serious negotiations” with train operators.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “I want to pay tribute to RMT members on Greater Anglia whose long and determined struggle over the core issue of a railway that’s safe, secure and accessible for all has been the foundation of the agreement that they have approved in the referendum ballot today.

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“It is the resilience of RMT members over almost a year that has secured the guard guarantee on Greater Anglia trains that we have been seeking.

“If we can reach a negotiated settlement on Greater Anglia that has safety, security and access at its core then there is no reason why we can’t achieve the same on SWR if the company are prepared to get down to business.

“The Greater Anglia agreement comes after similar deals have been done, including negotiated settlements across Scotland and Wales, that have the guard guarantee at their core.

“We now need to roll that principle out to the train companies where we remain in dispute and deliver the kind of safe, secure and accessible railway for all that the travelling public rightly demand.”

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said: “We’re pleased that we have reached agreement with the RMT regarding our conductors and the new trains.”