Strike threat at UK's Northern Rail

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is to ballot staff on strike action at the largest British rail franchise after industrial relations suffered what it calls a "comprehensive breakdown".

The RMT say that private rail contractor Northern Rail, which runs commuter rail services in the north of England, has been victimising union representatives and making unilateral changes to working conditions and payments made to staff attacked while on duty. It says that disciplinary procedures are not being followed and promises over the position of train guards when the Penistone line converts to tram-trains have not been kept.

Northern Rail Pacer 142041 at Castleton East Junction
Image: Ingy The Wingy.

Northern say they are meeting with the union on Friday. A spokesman told the BBC, "We are looking forward to a positive meeting and are very hopeful that those issues can be resolved".

Northern, a joint venture between the Dutch state railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen and British outsourcing company Serco, was awarded the eight years and nine months railway franchise in 2004, succeeding First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern. The joint venture also runs the Merseyrail electric trains network, based in Liverpool, which is not affected by the RMT's proposed action.