Rail Company 'Struggling To Understand' Reasons for Strike

Four days of disruption loom on South Western Railway


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South Western Railway (SWR) plan to run services on most lines during the forthcoming industrial action.

The RMT are holding a four day strike in the ongoing dispute over the role of guards on the network. The union say that 86% of their members backed carrying on with the current series of strikes on the issue.

They have instructed drivers and guards not to book on for duty from Friday 30 August to Monday 2 September.

The disruption 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 union say that management have failed to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to Driver Controlled Operation. The last industrial action by the union was for five consecutive days from 18 to 22 June. SWR managed to maintain around half of services during the strike and laid on services for major events taking place during the disruption. The strikes affected services across west and south west London including stations such Chiswick, Putney, Brentford, Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Kew Bridge.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further four days of strike action on South Western Railway. They are angry and frustrated that SWR have kicked talks into the long grass and failed to bolt down an agreement that will guarantee the role of the guard on the train. Our members believe that they are being mugged off by the company in protracted talks and I think they are right.

“The company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up. That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.

An SWR spokesman said, “We have spent most of this year trying to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute.”

"It’s extremely disappointing that despite having a date in the diary for what we hoped would be constructive talks held in good faith, the RMT union has somewhat cynically decided to call further disruptive strike action, inflicting misery on our customers and colleagues.

“Only last week, we met with union representatives for the fourth day of talks in the last ten days and were due to meet the General Secretary of the RMT the very day before these strikes have now been announced for. We are struggling to comprehend what this endless strike action is really all about. The RMT seems intent on ploughing on full steam ahead with more strikes, showing little regard for our customers or the communities we serve.

“The RMT 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. 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 everyone. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during strike action"

The RMT rail union has also called strike action on services on the Central and Victoria lines from 8pm on Tuesday 3 September to 8pm on Wednesday 4 Sepetember.

The union say that the issues in the Central Line dispute are 'insufficient driver numbers/chronic understaffing; imposed rosters; undue pressure and bullying of Drivers from Service Control management; obstruction of representatives’ trade union duties; misuse of the attendance at work and disciplinary policies; inadequate welfare facilities and breaches of local agreements'.

The strike was originally announced to take place at the end of August.

August 25, 2019


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