Winter of Discontent on South Western Railway

RMT planning 27 days of strike action during December

 RMT members demonstrate
RMT members demonstrate

In what is a significant escalation of the dispute over the role of guards on South Western Railway, the RMT union have announced 27 days of industrial action during December.

The union say they have been driven to strike after the company failed to honour a potential ‘breakthrough deal’ and offered no reason for the delay.

They are angry over the what they say is the company’s failure to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to Driver Controlled Operation.

The union has instructed Guard, Commercial Guards and Driver members to take the following strike action:-

• Not to book on for duty from Monday 2 December 2019 until Wednesday 11 December
• Not to book on for duty from Friday 13 December until Tuesday 24 December 2019
• Not to book on duty from Friday 27 December 2019 until the 1 January 2020

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.

“At the last meeting we held with SWR principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again. As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard we will remain in dispute.

“I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR. 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 agreed.

“The union remains available for talks.”

A South Western Railway spokesperson said, “We are extremely disappointed that the RMT union has once again called for their members to take disruptive industrial action. The deliberate targeting of services up to, and during, the Christmas period is typical of the lack of concern the RMT continue to have for our customers.

“The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train. That is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement if the RMT work with us to agree a method of operation for our new trains which fully utilises the new technology to improve safety, security and accessibility as well as day-to-day performance. Instead the RMT appear purely focussed on keeping control of train doors in a misguided attempt to hold power over the industry.

“Whilst we have shown commitment to the role of the guard by introducing over 80 additional guard roles since the start of our franchise, the RMT do not have the long-term interests of either our customers or our colleagues, including their members, at the heart of their actions.

“We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during strike action.”

November 5, 2019