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Rail union RMT is holding a series of public meetings across the North, starting tonight in Leeds, in support of striking train guards. The meetings have been organised to put across the union’s case for the guard guarantee and to build public and political support for RMT members continuing the fight for safe, secure and accessible rail services for all.

The meetings will be addressed by RMT officials, local MPs and others. Additionally, local representatives from Transport for the North and rail campaigners have been invited.

The forthcoming meetings are:

Tuesday 6 November 6.00pm Park Plaza, City Square, Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 5NS. Speakers include: Mick Cash RMT General Secretary, Richard Burgon MP, Joanne Thomas (Yorks & Humber TUC)

Thursday 8 November 6.00pm Newcastle Royal Station Hotel, Neville Street, Newcastle, NE1 5DH. Speakers include: Mick Cash RMT General Secretary, Ian Mearns MP & Ian Lavery MP, Beth Farhat (Northern TUC)

Thursday 8 November 6.00pm Sheffield Showroom Cinema & Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX. Speakers include: Steve Hedley RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary, Louise Haigh MP, Bob Jeffrey (Yorks & Humber TUC)

Thursday 15th November 6.00pm The Mechanics Centre, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD. Speakers include: Mick Cash RMT General Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Mayor Andy Burnham, Peter Middleman (North West TUC)

Thursday 29 November 6.00pm Liverpool Adelphi Hotel, Ranelagh St, Liverpool, L3 5UL. Speakers include: Steve Hedley, RMT Assistant General Secretary, Dan Carden MP, Lynn Collins, (North West TUC), Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham

General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“RMT is organising a series of public meetings in support of our Northern Guards. These will give us an opportunity to explain why Arriva Rail North refuse to come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains even though the union has secured agreements on other franchises in England, Scotland and Wales that enshrine the guard guarantee.

“The union continues to make every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going with Northern, but the company are not interested and would prefer to continue to bury their heads in the sand regardless of the impact on the travelling public.

“The basket case, German-owned Northern Rail - currently teetering on the edge of financial collapse and in crisis talks with the Government - want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services. They should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

“The meetings offer us an opportunity to thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that the Northern dispute is all about safety and passenger service.”

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) warned that government Brexit plans were a “shambles” today following a National Audit Office report on the possibilities of “No Deal” with the European Union.

The PCS which represents UK Border Force staff who deal with Customs and people wishing to enter the UK, is extremely concerned at the lack of planning and attention being shown by Ministers to the practicalities of leaving the EU on March 29th next year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The NAO report shows that Theresa May is making a shambles of Brexit.

“Our members tell us that there has been a complete lack of planning for a “no deal” Brexit or any kind of Brexit that involves any change to our relationship with the EU. Ministers knew they would have 2 years when they triggered Article 50 to put plans in place and deal with the practicalities of Brexit. They have totally failed on that front.

“Under our current relationship with the EU, promises made by Theresa May about ending free movement on March 29th cannot be carried out.

“Promises made by Theresa May about ending free movement after Brexit cannot be carried out without hiring more border staff to check passports which the government has failed to do. Airport E-gates for EU citizens will continue to be used after March 29th.

“We need more border staff as we are already stretched under the current arrangements with the EU.

“Instead of dealing with the practicalities of Brexit and hiring more staff, the government has put in place a leave ban from March to the end of April – to the detriment of border staff. Why should our members and the public at large pay the price for Theresa May’s incompetence?

“The government kept saying there would be a limited impact on the border. It was obvious following the referendum vote and the conversations our union has had with government that there would have to be changes at the border.”

Notes:

Electronic gates at airports are solely designed for EU citizens to go through. They cannot be used unless free movement rules continue to apply.

Customs checks at airports not being done as there are not enough staff. Staff are being diverted from Customs to check passports. The current system is massively stretched with airports at “breaking point.”

Customs checks at sea ports – a small percentage are being done. 90pc of our freight comes from the EU.

If we do not have a customs arrangement with the EU after March 29th, then we will not have the staff to carry out 100 pc checks that would be required. This will lead to potentially billions of pounds in lost revenue to the treasury.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) achieved a huge victory today after forcing the government to pay £3 million to the union in damages for withdrawing Check-Off.

Ministers agreed an out of court settlement, entitling the union to damages of £3 million for abruptly stopping the system of direct deduction of union subs from government workers pay packets in 2015.

The unlawful withdrawal of check-off from members in the DWP cut the union’s income overnight, although PCS went on to successfully sign up a majority of members to direct debit payment of subscriptions.

The union took the government to court and won. The PCS is continuing to pursue pay-outs from other government departments for damages following Check-Offs withdrawal.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is an unprecedented, multi- million pound compensation payment by a government to a trade union. The removal of checkoff was politically motivated, aimed at undermining the union’s ability to defend its members’ jobs and to effectively oppose the Tory government’s devastating austerity programme.

“Instead of negotiating with the union properly, Ministers thought it more expedient to unlawfully target us financially.

“We will continue to pursue claims for damages in every major government department going forward.”

THE FIREFIGHTERS' DILEMMA

TUCG: MARK SERWOTKA ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AUSTERITY

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