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RAIL union RMT has called for a national summit with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to end the deadlock in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
The union’s initiative comes on the eve of renewed strike action at six rail companies — Southern, Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and Island Line — in defence of safety-critical guards on trains.
In a letter proposing the summit to Mr Grayling, RMT general secretary Mick Cash points out that the issue of guards has been settled at operating companies in Scotland and Wales — and therefore can be settled in England too.
Mr Cash said he had received contradictory messages from Mr Grayling, one saying rail operators were free to settle the dispute on their own terms, another calling on RMT to accept the principle of driver-only trains.
“I have told the Secretary of State that agreements have been reached in Scotland and Wales for safe, secure and accessible modern services and that with good will on all sides we can reach an agreement in England as well,” he said.
The TUC and the Labour Party have both supported the call for a summit.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The way to resolve any dispute is through talks.
“We urge the government to respond positively to the RMT’s proposal for a summit involving the RMT, relevant companies and the Department for Transport."
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald added: “In the interests of passengers I am calling on Chris Grayling to take up this proposal for a summit.
“If his counterparts in Scotland and Wales can facilitate modern agreements that keep guards he should be able to do the same.”
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