Train Strike to Proceed as Talks Collapse

South Western Railway say they will do all they can to maintain services

 RMT members demonstrate
RMT members demonstrate

Services on South Western Railway (SWR) looks set to be disrupted through most of December through the New Year after talks between union and management collapse.

The RMT union have said that they will go ahead with 27 days of strikes after two days of talks failed to led to an agreement. The union claim that SWR were not interested in reaching a settlement.

The rail operator says that it has made a firm promise to keep all guards on trains and will do all it can to maintain services during the strikes. They claim the dispute is no longer about the presence of a guard but whether or not he or she has control of the train doors.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, "Throughout these ‎talks SWR have not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions."

SWR managing director Andy Mellors said: "We promise that there will always be a guard on our trains. We also promise our guards will maintain a safety critical role on our trains. We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary."

The union has instructed Guards, Commercial Guards and Driver members to take the following strike action:-

• Not to book on for duty from Monday 2 December 2019 until Wednesday 11 December
• Not to book on for duty from Friday 13 December until Tuesday 24 December 2019
• Not to book on duty from Friday 27 December 2019 until the 1 January 2020

The dispute has become increasingly acrimonious with each side accusing the other of bad faith.

The rail union RMT has alleged deceit over agreements which they say were proposed and then withdrawn by the company over guaranteeing a guard on the train. The company are denying this claiming they there were in talks with the union about the issue when the RMT suddenly announced industrial action.

An SWR spokesperson said, “Whilst we have shown commitment to the role of the guard by introducing over 80 additional guard roles since the start of our franchise, the RMT do not have the long-term interests of either our customers or our colleagues, including their members, at the heart of their actions.

“We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during strike action.”

November 22, 2019