ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – ISLAND LINE (SWR)

Our Ref: BR2/0146

TO ALL ISLAND LINE (SWR) CONDUCTORS
 
3rd November 2017
 
Dear Colleague,
 
ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – ISLAND LINE (SWR)
 
I am writing in relation to the above matter and further to my previous letter dated 24th October 2017, in which I advised you of the recent strike action called and the plans to meet further with the company to find a meaningful resolution to this dispute.
 
A meeting with South Western Railway management has now taken place, where we informed the company that the dispute could simply be resolved and called off if they gave the union assurances regarding the safety critical role of the guard. The union proposed to the company that they adopt the model agreed on Abellio Scotrail. Which is:-
 
1.    Guaranteed a Guard on every new electrified train.

2.    Guaranteed that the Conductor will retain their full competency (rules, track safety, evacuation).

3.    In addition ScotRail confirm that trains operating these services will not run without a competent conductor on board.

These arrangements transfer as per all other Collective Agreements at the end of the franchise.”
 
Currently South Western Railway currently run almost six hundred thousand trains a year, every one of them has the guarantee of a guard on each train.  That guard has a full set of competencies. The company’s proposal was not to guarantee a guard on the train but only roster a guard and only guarantee minimum competencies to reflect that the guard would not carry out the full role as they do today.

The company want to change that so that they can run their trains without a guard.  When asked why they want to change the arrangements when there is nothing wrong with the current ones, they said it does not deliver the best customer outcome.  They state that about 1000 or 0.17% of the current trains do not run due to the non-availability of a guard. We do not know the figure for non-availability of Drivers but we have said that we are prepared to sit down and discuss ways to ensure that guards are available to ensure trains are not cancelled.  
 
As you are more than aware, Andy Mellors, Managing Director of South West trains said that:- “Please be assured, we will fully respect the democratic process of the ballot and the outcome whatever that may be.”  Now, Mr. Mellors is back peddling. It is clear that he is more than happy to give assurances in video’s and personal letters, but, when it comes down to sticking by these commitments he twists and turns and promises nothing. I am sure you and your colleagues now find it incredibly difficult to trust someone who says one thing and does another. The company’s commitment to ‘rostering’  a guard on every train is a veiled attempt at sneaking through DOO under the pretence that the company would ‘try’ but not have to ‘guarantee’ a guard on every train.  It is clear that once they get the option of not having to have a guard on the train then more and more trains will run without a guard.
 
We understand that the company are planning to operate services during the dispute, which raises some serious safety concerns. As you may be aware, during the last strike action there were a number of serious safety breaches by Greater Anglia, which the union raised with the company and the ORR. Therefore, I will also be writing to the ORR in relation to South Western Rail’s plans to what we believe will be an unsafe service during the dispute and that we expect them, the ORR, as an independent body to intervene and prevent any more safety breaches, such as we saw in other disputes.
 
This dispute is now in management’s hands, it can simply be resolved by the company meeting our aspirations and guaranteeing a guard on every train. The company are all too aware that the union are asking for guarantees that do not change anything presently, but, simply keep them as they are, with a guaranteed guard on every train with full safety responsibilities. This will affect all members within the company and their attempts to split guards with their dishonest publicity, will I’m sure, not wash with you.
 
The company have been advised that as always we remain available to talk to resolve this dispute. We will do everything possible to defend the Safety Critical Role of the Guard and to ensure a meaningful resolution is met during this dispute. However, whilst the company continue to avoid the questions and refuse to commit to our aspirations the Industrial Action remains on. Therefore, as a way of reminder all our Island Line Conductors are instructed to take strike action and not to book on for any turns of duty that commence between:-
 
•    0001 Hours on Wednesday 8th November 2017 until 2359 hours on Thursday 9th November 2017.
 
We must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder during this dispute. You and your colleagues will send the company a clear message that we will no longer accept their insulting levels of deceit and will do everything possible to defend the Safety Critical Role of the Guard. Let’s stand together and show a united response against the company’s corrosive plans to introduce DOO.

NO TO DOO!
SUPPORT THE STRIKE
SUPPORT YOUR UNION


Yours sincerely
 
Mick Cash
General Secretary