New Round of Strikes Called on South Western Railway

Union accuses management of 'dragging heels' on guard guarantee

 RMT members demonstrate
RMT members demonstrate

Five days of strike action have been announced by the RMT on the South Western Railway network. The industrial action by guards and drivers is to take place between Tuesday 18 June and Saturday 22 June.

This represents a resumption of the dispute which appeared to have been resolved earlier this year when the union suspended industrial action after receiving written assurances over the rolling out of driver only operation.

The strikes will affect services across west and south west London including stations such Chiswick, Putney, Brentford, Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Kew Bridge.

Protracted talks have subsequently failed to finally resolve the issue. The union says that the train company pledged that “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies” but now says that they are rolling back on that guarantee.

Talks with ACAS were dur to resume on 17 June, the day before the planned strikes.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Our members are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up top our expectations on the guard guarantee.

“For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and it is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been signed off. It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action.”

A South Western Railway spokesperson said, "With further ACAS talks already in the diary for 17 June, for the RMT Union to call a week of strikes starting the following day shows there is not a genuine commitment to finding a solution.

“The union has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement. Now we want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.

"We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for our customers and colleagues alike. If these strikes go ahead, they will cause needless disruption. We are calling for the RMT to call off this unnecessary industrial action so that planned ACAS talks can go ahead."

May 31, 2019