West Midlands Trains drivers and senior conductors are to stage a series of walk-outs on Saturdays leading up to Christmas.
Rail union RMT confirmed that it has called strike action on West Midlands Trains over plans by the company to introduce Driver Only Operation, and do away with guards on trains.
West Midlands Trains Senior Conductor, Senior Conductor Instructor and Train Driver members are instructed to not to book on for any shifts between:
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 16th November
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 23rd November
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 30th November
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 7th December
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 14th December
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 21st December
- 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Saturday 28th December
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said; “RMT has been left with no choice but to call strike action on West Midlands Trains in the face of the company’s refusal to pull back from their threat to bulldoze through Driver Only Operation and their attack on the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface.
“We will not allow the drive for profit to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all on West Midlands Trains and we stand firm on that very basic principle. We will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety and accessibility.
“The union remains available for talks.”
West Midlands Trains also issued a statement, saying; “We are disappointed at the outcome of the ballot. We have committed to keeping a guard on every passenger train. A strike benefits nobody.
“We reached a framework agreement with RMT in May last year which guaranteed a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train. We remain determined to find a way of resolving this dispute without disruption and inconvenience for our passengers.
“If strikes go ahead we have drawn up contingency plans to run services using managers who also have guard competency. This will be a skeleton service, so passengers are advised to check their journey carefully before leaving home on strike days. More detailed information will be published nearer the time.”
The strike action will hit Christmas shoppers the hardest, with the strikes scheduled to take place on every Saturday between the middle of November until the end of the year.