Next week’s double rail strike on Southern services has been postponed – but a new date has been called for May 20.
The RMT union is believed to have scrapped the 24 walkouts starting next Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes because GTR, which runs Southern, took two days’ pay out of strikers’ salaries for last week’s 24-hour stoppage as it straddled both Tuesday and Wednesday.
But it has told conductors not to book on for any shifts on Friday, May 20 for another day of action in protest at GTR’s plans to take conductors off new trains, which the union says is unsafe.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash congratulated members on the “solid” action taken last week, adding: “We have had a lot of support from the public who understand the importance of having a conductor on the train.
“You should be especially proud of the magnificent support when you take in to account the amount of harassment and intimidation you have had to endure from a bullying and uncaring management.
“As I advised you yesterday we are challenging Southern legally over a number of issues, not least the amount of pay they are taking from members’ pay packets. As I also pointed out I have raised the bullying and harassment by management with the ORR and the Department for Transport.
“The National Executive Committee has asked me to produce campaigning materials that can be distributed to the public and to advise political groups, passenger groups and disabled groups in the area of the reasons behind our fight to keep conductors on the train and for them to retain their safety role.”
A spokesperson for Southern said: “We are naturally pleased that next week’s strike has been postponed, but remain concerned that the threat of further strike action hangs over our passengers with a new date announced for 20 May.
“While it would be good to think the RMT has changed its position, we believe they have taken this action after members rebelled at the prospect of losing a significant sum in pay and benefits due to the union calling three strike days in the same pay period.
“This strike is totally unnecessary. All we are doing is making our staff more accessible and more able to give better customer service to passengers on board our trains, by removing the need for them to close the doors.
“This is how 40% of Southern services operate already. No one will be made compulsorily redundant and no one will lose salary.
“We hope this additional time will offer the RMT the opportunity to pause and reflect on the impact their action is having on people and engage in meaningful discussions with us.”
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