Posted 28th November 2019 | 3 Comments

SWR peace talks break down, so strikes will go ahead

THE series of strikes called for almost every day throughout December on South Western Railway is on, after two days of last-ditch talks at ACAS broke down on Thursday afternoon.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘RMT is angry and frustrated that a set of proposals that would have guaranteed the safety-critical role of the guard at the point of despatch, and which would have cost the company absolutely nothing, have been kicked back in our faces. There is no rational explanation for the company position and we can only assume that either they or their paymasters in Government want this strike action to go ahead for politically motivated purposes.

‘The union also believes that cutting the guard out of the despatch process reduces the second person on the train to little more than a passenger in the longer term which would give the company the option of axing them all together at some point down the line.’

South Western Railway responded: ‘We have done everything we can and more to meet the RMT’s outdated demands with our promise of a guard on every train, and a safety critical role for that guard. What we are not prepared to compromise on is the much needed modernisation of the service with improved performance, safety and customer service that our new fleet of modern suburban trains will vitally deliver for customers. We know our passengers will welcome over 10 million more passenger journeys a year arriving on time and this much needed improvement to our service is too important to compromise.

‘Throughout negotiations we have tried repeatedly to find ways meet the RMT’s aspirations.  However, every time we find a way forward on one point the union has moved the goalposts by changing its position. They said at the outset this was about keeping the guard on the train, that is exactly what we have offered. They said they wanted a safety critical role for that guard, that is what we have offered. Unfortunately it is clear to us that the RMT is unclear on what this dispute is about and intent on striking no matter what.’

The first walkout is now set to be staged on Monday, and they are planned to continue almost without a break until 1 January 2020.

Reader Comments:

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

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    At this point SWR might as well just permanently lock out those RMT members who want to continue this ridiculous politically motivated strike, and sue the RMT for staging it, presenting the recording of Sean Hoyle stating their purpose is to bring down the government as proof the RMT are negotiating in bad faith. Present RAIB & other evidence that DCO is safe, and request a million pound fine for every day of striking.

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    What a surprise! Nothing would satisfy RMT except a commitment by SWR management to have 1930s working practices forever.

    The management teams of all the train operators in dispute with RMT merely want to improve the reliability of the rail service and make staff more (*not" less!) visible to passengers. Fact.

    Hopefully an incoming BoJo government will legislate to ensure trains still operate during strikes, without the need to put managers into temporary guards posts.

    Dig in SWR, and Northern, and West Midlands Railway. You can (and must) win these battles for the sake of the future rail industry!

  • Mark Rice, SURREY

    Unfortunately, this strike is not specifically about the role of the guards, its timed to have the greatest effect in the run up to the election.
    Unions should not be allowed to be aligned with political parties, and they certainly should not have a bully as a leader. They need to modernise and kick out the old guard themselves if the public are to truly believe a word they say.

    Heres an idea if Labour want more votes, then they should intervene and order the RMT to halt the strike.