Southern guards to strike again as RMT calls for ‘meaningful talks’ in trains dispute

Posted On 17 Mar 2017 at 7:26 pm

Another strike on the railways has been called for Tuesday 4 April as part of a long-running dispute between guards, belonging to the RMT union, and train operator Southern.

Guards will walk out for 24 hours from midnight in just over a fortnight’s time in the row over the driver-only operation of doors on new trains and the downgrading of guards or conductors.

Southern has redesignated them as on-board supervisors and imposed new contracts.

The RMT said that it was continuing to press Southern for a firm date for talks over the future role of its guards. The union also said that it would reconsider whether to strike to allow for those talks to take place.

The union said that it was worried about passenger safety when train doors were operated by drivers working for Southern which is part of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

And the union was concerned about proposals to run trains without a second safety-critical member of staff on board. It is feared that this would also add to the difficulties with access faced by some people with disabilities.

At the same time Southern bosses have struck a deal whih the trains drivers’ union is putting to its members. A deal struck a few months ago was vetoed by the union’s membership.

The RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members on Southern Rail have been fighting for safety and access for nearly a year now and it is disgraceful that we have continued to be carved out of the talks process. That is a kick in the teeth for our members.

“This dispute needs to be pushed forwards and RMT would be prepared to reconsider our action if we get a commitment to a firm date for genuine and meaningful talks.

“All parties should be at the negotiating table and RMT’s continued exclusion means we have no option but to press ahead with further industrial action.

“It is now down to Southern/GTR, and the contract holders in the government to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”

Responding to the RMT’s latest strike date, a Southern spokesperson said: “We’ve not received any correspondence from the RMT on this matter. When we do we’ll review it and respond.

“In the meantime, they have announced a new strike date and we’ll plan accordingly if it goes ahead.

“We’ve been able to run over 90 per cent of our trains for our passengers on recent RMT strike days and we will plan to run a comprehensive service again.”

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