Our Ref: BR2/0146

24th October 2017

“Please be assured we will fully respect the democratic process of the ballot and the outcome whatever that may be.”
Andy Mellors
Managing Director
South Western Railway
15th September 2017

Dear Colleague,


I am writing in relation to the above matter and further to my previous correspondence dated 3rd October 2017, in which I advised you of the extraordinary ballot result that was returned in favour of both Strike Action and Action Short of a Strike.

You will remember that you received a letter from Andy Mellors, Managing Director of South Western Railway, who as you can see in the above quote, stated that he would FULLY respect the democratic process of the ballot and its outcome. As you are more than aware the result of the recent ballot was a resounding YES to keep the Safety Critical Role of the Guard and ensure the safe running of the railway. Therefore, the question now remains; will the company stick by these promises and fully respect the outcome of the ballot? It would not have even been necessary to conduct this ballot if the company had provided the assurances of maintaining the same level of commitment as the previous franchise holders, Stagecoach. The guarantees we are looking for are that South Western Railway do not change anything, but, simply keep them as they are with a guaranteed Guard on every train with full safety responsibilities.

The company has been informed of the result and is all too aware of the outcome of the ballot and that you and your colleagues have voted overwhelmingly to secure your safety critical role on the train. The union recently met with SWR to discuss their plans for the role of the guard on their franchise. We asked the company for a straight answer to a straight question. We made our position clear that our policy is to have a Guard on every train. Regrettably, the company have still failed to commit to ensuring a safety critical guard would remain on their trains. It is becoming clear that the company will make promises to you and your colleagues through personal letters and videos, but, has no problems breaking these commitments. We cannot allow them to continue and we must ensure that South Western Railway stop saying one thing and doing another.

The National Executive Committee has recently considered this matter and believes that the only course of action is to now send the company a clear message that we will do everything possible to defend the Safety critical role of the guard. Therefore, all our Island Line Conductor members 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.

The NEC believes that our campaign of industrial action will need to be ramped up in the New Year should there continue to be no movement from the company to offer a satisfactory outcome to the dispute. Members should therefore be prepared for the possibility of a sustained period of industrial action in early January 2018.

Now is the time for us to stand together and fully defend the safety critical role of the guard. We must send the company a clear message that their continued false promises are totally unacceptable. I urge you all to stand shoulder to shoulder and support the upcoming strike action.


Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary