Union RMT has suspended its ongoing programme of strike action at Northern over the retention and the role of the guard on its trains.
The “major breakthrough” comes after substantial progress in talks brokered by Sir Brendan Barber, chair of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
Through that process, Northern has now offered a guarantee of a conductor on all trains, including the new fleet, for the duration of the current franchise. The guarantee is supported by the Department for Transport.
In a statement released on February 6, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Firstly I want to pay tribute to RMT’s members on Northern Rail whose resilience and determination though two years and 47 days of action has been the foundation on which today’s major breakthrough has been based. They are an absolute credit to both this union and the wider movement.
“I also want to thank the travelling public for their extraordinary support and both Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram for their efforts that have been important in allowing us to break the deadlock today.
“Today’s offer of a guarantee of a conductor on all services throughout the duration of the franchise, including the new fleet, is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT’s executive to take the decision to suspend the current action and allow for further talks to now take place with all stakeholders around the operational details.”
Northern managing director David Brown added: “We warmly welcome RMT’s decision to suspend its strike action and recommence talks about what the future role of the conductor looks like.
“We have been very clear in these discussions that there will be a conductor on all our trains now and into the future. We are looking forward to further positive talks with RMT about operational models moving ahead so that we can resolve their dispute and bring it to an end.
“The suspension of the RMT strikes is good news for customers and businesses across the North.”