Train Strike Suspended After 'Substantial Progress' in Guard Dispute

RMT hail 'significant breakthrough' in talks with South Western Railway

 RMT members demonstrate
RMT members demonstrate

Hopes that the strikes that have become endemic on South Western Railway (SWR) in recent months will be coming to an end have been raised after the RMT Union announced the suspension of the next round of industrial action.

In calling off the three days of strikes planned over the next few weeks the union say they are doing so after significant breakthrough on the guard guarantee. The next strike was due to start on Friday.

They say that through the talks process the company have now offered a guarantee of a guard on the SWR services that have been subject to dispute. This includes each passenger train operating with a guard with safety critical competencies which are to be agreed between the company and the union. Additionally all rolling stock train dispatch shall be subject to undertaking a safety risk assessment, on a station by station basis.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Firstly, we need to recognise that the breakthrough on the guard guarantee that has been secured today from South Western Railway has only been achieved through nearly two years of action and campaigning by RMT members on the principle of a safe and accessible railway for all. I want to pay tribute to the resilience, solidarity and determination of our guards and drivers on SWR that has sustained this long, hard campaign.

“I also want to thank the travelling public for their extraordinary support for the staff working at the sharp end of our rail services. That support has been another crucial factor in getting us to the breakthrough we have achieved today.

“Today’s offer of a guarantee of a guard on the SWR services in dispute is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT’s executive to take the decision to suspend the current action to allow further talks to take place with the objective of reaching a final, agreed settlement.”

A SWR spokesman said, “We are pleased for our customers that the RMT has suspended the planned strike action for 22 February and 9 and 16 March to allow talks to take place next week. This means that we will now operate a normal service this Friday.

“We are looking forward to further constructive discussions with the RMT and are hopeful that by building on this breakthrough we can see an end to this industrial action and together build a better railway for our customers.”

February 19, 2019