Posted 3rd August 2016 | No Comments

Southern DOO talks set to start at ACAS

TALKS are set to take place today between Govia Thameslink Railway and the RMT in the driver-only operation dispute on Southern, but GTR has warned that the union will have to call off its threatened five day strike by tomorrow afternoon if a 'strike timetable' is to be avoided from Monday.

If the strike goes ahead between 8 and 12 August Southern is planning to use 'contingency conductors' to provide almost six trains out of ten. The company said there would be extra staff at stations to help passengers and alternative transport where possible.

Even so services will be restricted, with fewer trains on many routes and no evening services after 18.00. There will be no services at all on some lines.

Passenger service director Angie Doll said: “We are sorry that our passengers once again look set to suffer further disruption because of the RMT. The union must call this action off by Thursday afternoon if we are to avoid having to put in Monday’s strike timetable.

“This action is not necessary. Our new on-board supervisors will no longer close the doors, a task that passes to the driver with the aid of CCTV. This will cost no-one their jobs, and frees up staff on board trains to better serve passengers.

“As many services will have staff on board as they do today and our on-board staff will have an improved role which better meets the needs of passengers, securing their valued position on the railway for the long-term.

“And there will be fewer train cancellations in future: currently, conductors are tied to specific routes and services, but the new on-board supervisor will be able to go anywhere on our network, significantly reducing the perennial problem of train cancellations due to conductors not being available when they’re delayed by disruption, for example.”

At the moment, Southern is still planning to start the changeover from guards on 21 August.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We repeat our offer in good faith to suspend action if the company agree to suspend the planned changes to the safety critical role of the guard and the bulldozing through of the new contracts without agreement.

"That would create the space for talks to take place outside the pressure cooker. RMT will be at ACAS to discuss the full range of detailed issues at the core of this dispute".

Meanwhile, the union is facing a legal challenge in a separate DOO dispute on ScotRail, where the union is staging a series of strikes in protest at proposals to extend DOO north of the border.

ScotRail said: "We have written to the RMT to challenge some actions by the union that we believe contravene the legislation that governs industrial action. We await their response.”

The RMT has yet to give a detailed reply, but a spokesman for the union said: "This latest move shows that ScotRail are keener on interfering in workplace democracy under the cover of the anti-union laws than they are in dealing with the issues of rail safety at the heart of the current dispute."