Talks Between Southern and RMT Break Down

More strike action likely as no deal reached between union and network

Southern Rail Strike: RMT Offers to Suspend Industrial Action
RMT members demonstrate outside the Department of Transport

The cancellation of the last two days of the five day strike on Southern Rail last week looks set to be a temporary reprieve following the breakdown of talks between the train operator Govia Thameslink (GTR) and the union.

The RMT says that proposals it presented at the talks at ACAS were rejected out of hand but GTR passenger services director Angie Doll said that the unions would not agree to a deal that gave them the flexibility needed to continue operating the service at times of disruption. Other train networks in the UK already operate under similar arrangements.

‘On-board supervisors’ are due to be introduced onto the trains instead of conductors later this month with drivers becoming responsible for the operation of the doors. The union say that a second person needs to be on the train at all times for safety reasons.

Ms Doll said: "We have guaranteed to have a second person on as many trains as today, but the union is rigidly refusing our offer to agree a list of exceptional circumstances when we would be able to run our trains without a second staff member on board, such as during disruption."

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, "We had a golden opportunity in these talks to make some serious progress on the core issue of a second person on the train who would have protected the safety of passengers, delivered customer service and ensured access to services for those with disabilities or needing assistance.

"‎It's a bitter blow that a firm set of union proposals that could have allowed us to move forward were rejected out of hand. "

An Acas spokesman said: "Acas conciliation talks have ended without the sides reaching agreement. There are no further talks planned but our services remain available."

The RMT executive will meet this afternoon (15 August) to consider their next move.

August 15, 2016