Major Escalation of Dispute on South Western Railway

RMT Union announces five day strike during half term holiday

RMT members demonstrate outside the Department of Transport

There has been a major escalation of the dispute on South Western Railway (SWR) with the announcement by the RMT of a new series of strikes.

They include five days of strikes from the 23 – 27 October, a much longer disruption than in previous actions. In addition there will be strikes on the following four Saturdays.

The union say the strikes are necessary because management is refusing to engage in serious talks over guards whereas SWR say the RMT is ‘needlessly’ disrupting the service.

RMT members on South Western Railway working as Commercial Guards, Guards and Train Drivers are instructed to not to book on for any shifts on:-

Tuesday 23rd October to Saturday 27th October
Saturday 3rd November
Saturday 10th November
Saturday 17th November
Saturday 24th November

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said, “South Western Railway has stalled the talks process and has failed to provide any sort of offer that comes close to resolving this dispute which matches the widespread best practice in the industry, underpinned by the guard guarantee.

“With shocking new figures from the British Transport Police showing a surge in violence on our railways it is frankly appalling that South Western Railway are looking for a green light to throw the guard off their trains as and when they see fit in the name of profit. SWR might think it’s acceptable to play fast and loose with passenger safety, security and access but RMT members, who have stood firm throughout this dispute despite appalling harassment from the company, will not accept a dilution of the safety regime on the railway.

“There's a simple solution to ‎this dispute and it means SWR stop playing with words and negotiate the guard guarantee that reflects the safety values of the agreements RMT has negotiated in other parts of the rail 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. The company should get out of the bunker and start talking with us seriously rather than sitting back and just hoping the core issues of safety, security and access will go away. They won’t.”

A spokesman for SWR said, "The RMT has again decided to needlessly disrupt our customers and colleagues with more strikes over the next two months.

“The union has cynically chosen dates with the aim of targeting hard-working commuters, families enjoying the half-term holiday and sports fans to cause as much misery as possible. We will be doing everything we can to minimise this disruption.

“Our plans mean more guards, not fewer and we have guaranteed a guard with safety critical competencies to be rostered on all of our services.

“Should the RMT proceed with these damaging strikes, we will do everything possible to provide as many services as we can.”

October 9, 2018