TALKS aimed at averting more strikes by rail workers have collapsed.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said walkouts on Arriva Rail North (Northern) in the long running dispute over guards on trains will now go ahead every Saturday until the end of the year.

The union blamed the company for the breakdown in talks at the conciliation service Acas.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT's negotiating team arrived at the talks this morning only to find that they were shunted into a side room while the company played for time.

"They even issued a bulletin to staff making it clear that the Acas talks were nothing but a stunt on their part to buy a bit of time and try and hoodwink the union into suspending action.

"Even after we eventually got in the room with ARN it was clear that they were either unwilling or unable to address the unions position on the three key points we have set out and the fundamental issues at the heart of the dispute.

"Frankly, it defies belief that despite the spin from the Government last week the very basic issue of a funding package to underpin a second person on Northern trains has been booted into the long grass.

"That is a disgrace."

He added: "Their cynical actions have collapsed the talks process and the programme of strike action remains on and the blame for that lies fair and square with the company."

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: "Today at Acas talks, Northern went in to the meeting with an open mind and made it clear we wish to continue discussions and all options will be considered that involve the deployment of two members of staff on Northern services.

"Any customer who needs help with access, personal security, information, ticketing and so on will have a member of staff, in addition to the driver, on-board trains to help them.

"On behalf of customers and stakeholders, and in the spirit of working together, Northern would welcome RMT postponing its planned industrial action. We look forward to further talks at Acas."

This will mark the third occasion that emergency talks between the two parties have broken down.