Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram and city mayor Joe Anderson have come together, along with the five leaders of the city region’s districts, to write an open letter to transport union RMT and Merseyrail, calling on both sides to engage in immediate independent conciliation without conditions to find a settlement of their dispute as early as possible.
The increasingly bitter dispute, which has seen several days of strike action affect the city, stems from Merseyrail’s plan to combine the introduction of new rolling stock with a driver-only system that will see the role of on-board guards phased out. Calling for dialogue, the letter states:
“We are concerned that this dispute is continuing, and feel that only meaningful dialogue and a willingness to engage in detailed negotiation can find a way forward. We are equally concerned that statements emanating from both sides only serve to entrench positions and have the potential to make it more difficult for sides to come to a negotiated settlement.”
The civic figureheads said that they accept that major change and innovation can always be a source of tension and disruption, but that they believe there is more than enough time between now and the introduction of new trains in 2020 to work out a mutually acceptable solution that works for the operator, employees and travellers.
Rotheram said: “We have been in contact with both sides to encourage dialogue and resolution, but it is now our belief that an independent process of conciliation without conditions could achieve a breakthrough. The dispute has gone on for long enough and for the benefit of the public, both parties need to break the deadlock.”