24 July 2018
RMT Press Office:
With eight days of strike action set to start Thursday in guards' dispute RMT warns that South Western Railways franchise is teetering on the brink
RAIL UNION RMT today warned that the South Western Railways franchise is teetering on the brink as it emerged that the franchise is having to be renegotiated just days before the workforce is due to begin a further programme of strike action in the long-running fight over guards and rail safety.
The news that the franchise is being renegotiated, less than a year since the new operator took over, has fuelled union concerns that it is in financial and operational trouble with the threat to axe guards part of a drive to save cash to plug gaps in the original financial projections.
When MTR/First took over from Stagecoach Transport Secretary Chris Grayling promised a “revolution in services.” Those words have now come back to haunt the Government as SWR becomes just the latest rail franchise to be plunged into crisis management with plans shelved and desperate measures being worked up to avoid it careering into an East Coast style collapse.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:
“Here we go again, yet another rail franchise heralded by the Government as the best thing since sliced bread being plunged into managerial chaos with crisis measures now afoot to try and stave off a collapse of the services on Britain’s busiest commuter train network in and out of Waterloo.
“RMT is in no doubt that the moves to axe guards and rip apart the safety culture, the issue at the heart of the current dispute, is fuelled by a demand to claw back cash to prop up gaps in the MTR/First Group financial projections for the franchise. It’s about time passengers and staff alike on this crisis-torn rail franchise were told the truth and there is no question that the Government and Chris Grayling are once again up to their eyeballs in this one as well.
“Our members are striking again from Thursday to put public safety before private profits and it’s about time SWR took note of what is going on elsewhere in the rail industry, and the settlements RMT has struck that underpin the guard guarantee, and started talking with us seriously around a similar package that puts safety, security and access to services top of the agenda.
“This rolling crisis in Britain’s privatised rail industry will fuel the growing and unstoppable campaign for public ownership.”
As a result of the SWR failure to come forward with proposals that guarantee the guard on their services RMT members will strike as follows by not booking on for any shifts between;
0001 Hours and 2359 hours on Thursday 26th July 2018
0001 Hours and 2359 Hours on Saturday 28th July 2018
0001 Hours and 2359 Hours on Tuesday 31st July 2018
0001 Hours and 2359 Hours on Saturday 4th August 2018
0001 Hours and 2359 Hours on Saturday 11th August 2018
0001 Hours and 2359 Hours on Saturday 18th August 2018
0001 Hours on Friday 31st August 2018 and 2359 Hours on Saturday 1st September 2018