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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 10:02 GMT
Rail strike disruption for Christmas
Passengers on a platform
Rail passengers face a frustrating time over Christmas
Christmas commuters on the north's rail network face disruption after the failure of talks to avert industrial action.

Representatives from the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) rejected a pay offer from Arriva Trains Northern.

Conductors will now stage a three-day walk out next week.

The two sides have been in dispute over pay and working conditions throughout the year.

It is difficult to understand the union's agenda

Ray Price managing director Arriva Trains Northern

Staff will strike on 21, 23, 24 December and also on New Year's Eve.

But Arriva claims a quarter of its conducting staff have pledged not to take action and deliver as many services as possible.

Ray Price, managing director for the train firm, criticised the RMT's stance in talks.

"Regrettably the union has informed us that they reject the offer and will not put it to their members," he said.

'More sensible'

"It is difficult to understand the union's agenda. Whilst other unions up and down the country are prepared to reach realistic settlements with their employers, the RMT refuses to bring an end to this damaging dispute.

"The offer made to the RMT is better than offers that have been accepted by the RMT at other train operating companies this year.

"We can only conclude that our conductors are being used by the RMT to meet the union's wider political agenda.

"I urge our conductors to demand a more sensible approach from their union."

Low pay

An RMT spokesman said Arriva conductors are currently the lowest paid in the country at 15,500.

"This dispute is about low pay," he said.

"It has been continued because of the company's bullying and intimidation.

"It will be settled when the company makes a realistic offer around which we can negotiate a fair settlement."

See also:

10 Dec 02 | England
06 Nov 02 | England
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