Posted 15th February 2017 | 1 Comment

New Southern walkout next week

 A NEW strike has been called on Southern for 22 February, following the breakdown of talks over DOO between the RMT and Govia Thameslink Railway yesterday (Tuesday). Both sides blamed the other, with Southern's owner GTR calling the RMT ‘obstinate’ while the RMT accused the company of having a ‘pig-headed attitude’.

The walkout will involve former conductors, who are now mostly on-board supervisors, and around a dozen drivers who are members of the RMT. The controversial driver-only operation deal, which was agreed with ASLEF in principle at the TUC on 2 February, is currently being voted on by more than 900 ASLEF members.

It includes a list of ‘exceptional circumstances’ when a train lacking a supervisor may run with only a driver, and the RMT has been further angered by the discovery that these circumstances include industrial action.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “The abject failure by Southern Rail in yesterday’s talks to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action. These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second-safety critical member of staff on their trains.

“Instead they have shifted the goal posts even further and have now created a ‘strike breakers’ charter’ where one of the numerous new conditions where trains can run driver-only is during industrial action. That is simply scandalous and a measure of the betrayal of our members as a result of the TUC-brokered deal with Southern in the drivers’ dispute.

“The full detail of Southern’s plan is far worse than anyone could have anticipated. This is dire news, not just for staff, but for passengers who rightly demand a safe, reliable and accessible service. RMT will not walk away from the fight for a railway that puts public safety before private profit."

GTR chief operating officer Nick Brown said: "We are disappointed that the RMT is going to heap yet further misery and disruption on the travelling public. We aim to run as full a service as we can."

The result of the ASLEF referendum, in which drivers are being asked to approve the deal agreed at the TUC, is due tomorrow.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Considering industrial action is (rightly) listed as an exceptional circumstance for DOO then having the RMT call another strike blatantly proves the RMT does NOT care about safety and having a second staff member on board, because now these trains will operate with only the driver. And that is still FAR safer for passengers than alternative methods of transport where the risk of death or injury on the roads is far higher than on the rails.

    As any objective thinker realized from the start, these strikes by the RMT re SOLELY about retaining their power to bring services to a halt. Well you've lost that battle Mick. If you had any common sense whatsoever you'd retreat from your unsupportable position (and if we're lucky, resign so the RMT members can vote in a leader who knows how to negotiate without painting himself into a corner). Knowing how pig-headed you are though I'm sure you'll have all your members continue to lose pay and continue to follow as you jump off the cliff.
    To all Southern RMT members out there - show your displeasure with your leader by ignoring any further strike calls on this lost cause.

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