The RMT has announced its 30th day of strike action for a week on Monday as train bosses warn that the disruption on the Southern service could last for two years – or more if industrial dispute is not resolved.
The RMT said it would be calling a 24-hour walkout of both guards and drivers on March 13. Most of Southern’s RMT members are guards, but a handful of drivers are also members. Most drivers belong to the Aslef union, which earlier this month rejected an agreement drawn up after talks between Southern and union reps.
The Evening Standard reported that the chief executive of Southern’s parent company Go Ahead Group David Brown said he could: “guarantee that by the end of 2018 — when London Bridge infrastructure is finished and the last timetable change is in place — the major issues should be resolved and people will have a much better service. But it’s still dependent on good industrial relations.
“Until then, we do believe we can improve things: over the past few weeks, we have operated a decent service with fewer than 20 trains cancelled per day, out of 2,500, which is down from 600 daily cancellations at the height of the industrial issues.”
today, Mick Cash said the walkout was called after rail bosses turned down an offer of talks with the RMT. He said: “The abject failure by Southern Rail to meet with us, to clarify their exact position on the second safety-critical member of staff and to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action.
“These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had sat down and listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second-safety critical member of staff on their trains.
“We now have the best part of two weeks before the next phase of action for the company to take the issues at the core of this dispute seriously, get round the table with the union and negotiate a settlement.
“It is now down to Southern/GTR to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address the fundamental issue of rail safety on their services. RMT expects the company to take up that offer from the union as a matter of urgency.”
A Southern spokesman said: “This will be the 30th day of RMT strike action for Southern passengers and today’s news is clearly disappointing. We asked the RMT executive to suspend any further action when they met today so that talks could take place, instead they have chosen to put their members through even more pointless industrial action.
“They say they want to talk, but they are hell-bent on further strike misery and causing disruption and hardship to people’s everyday work and family lives.
“We were able to run almost 90% (87%) of services on the last RMT strike day and we will again have contingency plans in place to be able to run as full a service for the travelling public on the day.”
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