Talks set for rail dispute

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TALKS aimed at settling an industrial dispute by rail workers in the Scarborough area are due to begin on Thursday (June 16).

It is understood that five staff with the historic North Yorkshire Moors Railway began an overtime ban and work to rule at midnight on Thursday (June 9) in a bid for an increase in pay.

Philip Benham, the rail firm’s general manager, said it affected a minority of the company’s workforce and stressed that the dispute would not affect services or safety.

He said: “We are trying to get the matter resolved and the matter has been referred to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). I hope that we will be able to make some process. “We shall go into this with an open mind.

“We’ve got to find a solution that we can afford and resolve satisfactorily. We want our staff to be happy”

Mr Benham said that the railway employed up to 135 members of staff as well as several hundred volunteers from all walks of life.

The action is being taken by members of the RMT trade union which has claimed that carriage and wagon-fitters at the railway have been told to take on extra work and responsibility for no extra money.

New duties include examining carriages and signing them off under safety regulations as the trains are expected to run on Network Rail tracks.

However Mr Benham disagreed that staff were being asked to take on extra responsibilities. He said: “This is something they’ve done for many years. We can’t afford it in these very difficult times. The last thing we can afford is something which will affect our costs.”

RMT head Bob Crow said: “This is a straightforward case of fitters being expected to shoulder additional work and responsibility, having the right to be rewarded properly for it.

“The company knows that we are ready to talk to resolve the issue, but simply refusing to entertain an increase in pay for an increase in workload and responsibility is not an option.”

Five members of the union at the heritage line were balloted on the industrial action and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move.