Workers on Merseyrail are to stage a pre-Christmas strike in a long-running dispute over the role of guards.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out for 24 hours on December 22.

The union said the row could be “easily resolved” if senior Merseyside Labour politicians followed national Labour Party policy and supported their safety-critical rail staff, instead of acting as “human shields for profiteering private rail companies”.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members on Merseyrail are angry that senior Labour figures have chosen to ignore party policy on driver only operation to side with the private company rather than our safety-critical guards.

“If those politicians had taken a positive and proactive stance, like their colleagues in Wales and Scotland, we could move towards a solution to this dispute which puts safety first.

“The fact that we have been unable to make any progress whatsoever with the company means we have no option but to put this action on and the blame lies with Merseyrail and their political supporters.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash members were angry (Nick Ansell/PA)RMT General Secretary Mick Cash members were angry (Nick Ansell/PA)

“Those senior Labour politicians have chosen the wrong side. They need to stand with the many – the passengers, the workers and the people of Merseyside, and not the few – Tory ministers and bosses of the private operator Merseyrail.‎”

The union remains embroiled in disputes with Arriva Rail North, Greater Anglia, Southern and South Western Railway over the role of guards, which have sparked a series of strikes all year.