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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 17:29 GMT
Trains stopped in overtime row
Newcastle station at morning rush hour on Thursday, 24 January, 2002
A series of strikes since Janurary has emptied stations
Arriva Trains Northern has cancelled services following an overtime ban it placed on striking conductors.

On 22 February the company announced it would no longer allow strikers to make up their earnings by working rest days and overtime.

Documents passed to BBC Transport Correspondent Alan Whitehouse show that, despite managers standing in, a lack of conductors is blamed for the cancellation of 41 trains over a three-day period.

Derek Cotts, press officer for the Rail Maritime and Transport worker's union (RMT) told BBC News Online: "In response to the fact that our strikes have been united, the company has put a blanket ban on overtime and rest days.

Various factors can affect the availability of personnel including sickness absence, holidays and personal issues

Arriva Trains Northern statement

"But in some areas they have been begging members to work overtime to get the trains out.

Arriva Trains Northern has denied it has a shortage of conductors.

In a statement, the company said: "As with any business, various factors can affect the availability of personnel including sickness absence, holidays and personal issues."

Arriva has offered a 3% pay rise to RMT conductors plus 5% based on productivity.

But the RMT has said drivers have been given an 18% pay rise plus a Christmas bonus of 400 and pension improvements.

More strikes

But Bob Crowe, general secretary of the RMT said: "They [Arriva] ask our members to work overtime and on their rest days because they have a shortage of staff.

"But if they get vindictive by creating ways to disrupt a legitimate strike instead of ways to end it they will reap the consequences."

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents station and retail staff, are also seeking a pay rise.

The next 24-hour strike is scheduled for 28 March, with two 48-hour strikes due to follow in April and May.

See also:

06 Mar 02 | England
Arriva staff in more rail strikes
01 Mar 02 | UK
Rail strikes hit passengers
01 Mar 02 | England
Arriva strike 'far from over'
01 Mar 02 | Scotland
Strike woe for Scots rail users
28 Feb 02 | Scotland
Rail strike chaos warning
25 Feb 02 | England
Axed rail services restored
22 Feb 02 | England
Arriva vows to make strikers pay
21 Feb 02 | England
Conductors vote on 'no fare' days
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