Southern to push on with changes to guards’ role without union agreement

Posted On 15 Aug 2016 at 8:49 pm

Train company Southern said that it would push on with changes to the role of guards without the agreement of the RMT union.

Talks at the arbitration and conciliation service Acas ended without agreement again, prompting Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to announce its decision today (Monday 15 August).

The company said: “GTR today vowed to move forward with modernisation plans after the latest talks at Acas with the RMT ended without agreement.”

GTR passenger services director Angie Doll said: “We have been talking to the union for nine months now and, despite several visits to Acas, the union won’t agree a deal.

“Passengers will be rightly exasperated that the RMT won’t agree to what most fair-minded people would believe is an incredibly good offer.

“We are guaranteeing jobs, pay and a second person on as many trains as we do today and also offered to work with the RMT to agree modern working practices to reduce cancellations and passenger disruption.

“The RMT’s position does not help our passengers at all. We have guaranteed to have a second person on as many trains as today but the union is rigidly refusing our offer to agree a list of exceptional circumstances when we would be able to run our trains without a second staff member on board, such as during disruption to still get people home.

Crowded Southern train

“This would create the crucial flexibility we need to ensure fewer cancelled trains for our passengers.

“The RMT has repeatedly tried to play the safety card as the issue but it did not raise this issue at all during these latest talks, confirming this dispute is purely about union power and control.

“The fact is that, day in, day out for decades, up and down Britain’s railways and the Tube network, we’ve had the driver operating the doors, safely.

“This is backed up by independent research and expert opinion, including that of the Rail Safety and Standards Board.

“We will now move forward with our modernisation plans which will deliver better customer service for our passengers.

“Our eight-point proposal is still on the table (see below) and we urge the RMT to give this serious consideration.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with our staff as we start to implement these vital changes.

“After so much unnecessary industrial action, we must all get back to the job of giving our passengers the service they expect and deserve.”

GTR’s eight-point proposal includes

  • Collective bargaining rights for the new OBS (on-board supervisor) role, ensuring that this group will have a voice within the organisation as well as full negotiation rights
  • A joint review of the OBS role after 12 months of operation, to look at role development, training and future career development
  • A guaranteed minimum level of voluntary overtime for all OBSs, the detail of which would be agreed with the RMT
  • A guarantee to retain the OBS role at the levels already guaranteed, beyond 2021, should GTR retain the franchise
  • Southern guarantee second member of staff rostered to those trains that have them today
  • Conductors and OBS to retain safety competence including PTS (personal track safety) and evacuation training, including non-dispatch route knowledge
  • Southern and RMT to agree a list of circumstances whereby a train would continue in service without a second member of train crew on board, in the interests of the customers
  • RMT to accept transfer of door-operation to the driver

GTR said that this was on top of the commitments already made to the RMT, which include

  • No compulsory redundancies
  • No reduction in salary
  • No compulsory location moves
  • A guaranteed, above-inflation pay rise for the next two years
  • An increase in the existing ‘shift premia’ (which is additional salary paid to staff for working voluntary overtime) to 20 per cent over the next three years
  • A promise to increase the number of back-up staff to help manage unplanned disruption thereby ensuring the railway is staffed more in the future than it is today

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