Train Company Dispute Claim of 'Rock Solid' Support for Strike

RMT says 88% of members backed industrial action on South Western Railway

RMT members demonstrate outside the Department of Transport

The train operator hit by a series of strikes called by the RMT union is disputing their claim that support for industrial action is 'rock solid'.

They claim that only half of the guards employed on South Western Railway (SWR) have backed the strikes and that the union does not have a mandate. The union re-balloted members this month on the issue of further strikes with 88% of those who voted supporting continued industrial action.

The union is to hold 48 hours of strike action on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 October. They claim that the company is refusing to engage in ‘serious talks’. The latest strike represents an escalation of the dispute as most of the previous days on which they were held were at the weekend.

SWR say there will be no service at all on the Hounslow Loop between Hounslow and Barnes on the strike days.

A SWR spokesman said: "We are extremely disappointed that yet again the RMT has decided to disrupt the lives of customers and employees rather than participate in constructive talks to help resolve this matter for their members.

"Contrary to the RMT’s claims of ‘rock-solid support’ for a mandate to strike, the fact is that when factoring in non-RMT members and those RMT members who did not vote, only around half of our total number of guards voted for strike action.

"The RMT is misleading the public by claiming they have an 88 per cent mandate.

"We have offered a framework for talks which would guarantee the rostering of a second person with safety critical competencies on all our trains, and our plans mean more guards, not fewer.”

RMT members on South Western Railway working as Commercial Guards, Guards and Train Drivers will not book on for any shift on those two days.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said, “Before the result of the re-ballot I sent a letter to the company on the 30th August 2018 asking them to make the necessary arrangements for a meeting to take place. However, I never received a response from the company and they have made no attempt at trying to resolve this dispute since. It would appear that once again the company were riding their luck in the desperate hope that we would not be successful in another re-ballot. However, our members have stood rock solid and it's down to the company to get out the bunker and get serious talks underway.

“There's a simple solution to ‎this dispute and it means SWR stop playing with words and negotiate the guard guarantee that reflects the best safety practice elsewhere in the industry.

“That is the package we have successfully negotiated in both Wales and Scotland and on a number of English franchises. It defies belief that we are being denied the same positive outcome on the South Western Railway routes.”

South Western Railway have published to dedicated strike pages with information about services that are running on the day for Friday 5 October and Saturday 6 October.

October 5, 2018