RMT extends dispute over driver only operation to network
RMT members demonstrate outside the Department of Transport
A two day strike on the South Western Railway network has been announced by the RMT union. It is due to take place on Wednesday 8 November and Thursday 9 November.
The strike has been called over the issue of driver only operation of trains. South Western Railway has taken over the franchise formerly operated by South West Trains which serves the Hounslow Loop through Brentford, Syon Park, Kew Bridge, Isleworth and Chiswick and suburban services in Putney, Wandsworth Town and Wimbledon. The new franchise owner First MTR has been accused of not giving ‘clear, cast-iron assurances’ over the future of guards on their trains.
The issue under dispute is the same as the one that has brought so much disruption to Southern Rail, whether or not trains can be allowed to run if there is no guard available. At the moment a service may need to be withdrawn if there is no guard available.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said, “Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action in early November.
“It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England. This suspension of normal industrial relations by the employers has to end if we are to make progress towards a solution that guarantees safe rail travel for all.
“RMT is in no doubt that it is the dead hand of the minority Tory Government that is interfering in these disputes to block negotiated settlements. It is outrageous that Theresa May and Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains.”
A South Western Railway spokesperson said, "We are extremely disappointed that the RMT has announced dates for this unnecessary and disruptive strike rather than working with us to find a solution to their problem. No-one wants this, least of all our passengers and staff who will be the ones to suffer.
"We would like to assure our customers that should this strike go ahead, we have contingency plans in place and we will do everything we can to minimise disruption to their journeys.
“This action is both premature and unnecessary. We have not yet made a decision on how best to operate our new fleet of trains – trains that are not due to be in service for two years, and the way forward is to discuss how we operate them for the benefit of our passengers with our employees, and the union. “
The railway company claims that talks with staff at a local level have been productive and that the union is acting against their best interest.
October 25, 2017