ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY

Our Ref: BR2/0146

11th September 2017

Dear Colleague,

ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY

I write further to my previous correspondence on the above matter and where I informed you that the company had totally failed to provide any guarantees on the Safety Critical Role of the Guard.

You will have no doubt seen the company’s propaganda regarding this dispute and their attempts at undermining your union. However, the company’s attempts are futile as we all know that this tactic is being used to try and split the workforce through the divide and rule tactic. The company are persistently being vague on the topic of DOO and are trying to mask their true intentions through veiled promises and misinformation. The company have stated that "We have not yet made any decisions in relation to the role of the Guard on our new Metro trains". However, as I’m sure you are aware on 20th June, First Group plc announced they had signed an order with Bombardier for a fleet of 90 new suburban trains. The union is all too aware that if past experiences are to go by, then an introduction of a new fleet is the company’s way of trying to force through DOO and an attempt to remove the Safety Critical Role of the Guard.

This Dispute has always been about safety and that we want to see a safe, secure and accessible railway for everyone. The company are happy to tell you that “Your job and current terms and conditions are secure". Yet, the company are once again being economical with the truth. In the event that any form of DOO is introduced, the long term effect on your terms and conditions would be evident and we would inevitably lose long standing agreements. This is only evident in the company’s attempt to divide the workforce by promising that "We have no plans to change anything in regards to how our mainline services are operated".  We cannot accept attempts by the employer to cause a rift between you and your colleagues based on whether you are commercial guard or non-commercial guard, mainline or suburban. In any case, wherever DOO has been introduced it never stays within its original limits and only paths the way for them to extend DOO. Remember, we are not asking for anything new, just simply for your existing hard thought terms and conditions and agreements with South West Trains to be honoured by the new employer.

As mentioned in my previous letter South Western Railway has continued to state that they “Will plan to have a second safety trained person on their trains”.   Unfortunately, this is not good enough as a mere "plan" is not the same thing as a guarantee or operational requirement that we have at present. We also have concerns with the vague term 'safety trained' which has no recognised basis in the industry as opposed to your current industry best practice status of 'safety critical'.

While the employer is happy to say that they recognise the value of Guards and your popularity with passengers, it raises more questions than it answers. Guards on SWR have been hailed as “legends” in the company’s publicity material. Therefore, it is time for First MTR to stand by those legends, to get around the table and guarantee that you and your colleagues will remain.

It is about time we said enough is enough and send the company a clear message that we will not allow them to divide us, that we will not allow them to push through DOO and  that we will do everything possible to defend the Safety Critical Role of the Guard! Remember through unity, strength and determination by RMT members, DOO can be defeated.

Therefore, to ensure a swift ballot, membership checks are currently underway, I urge you all to ensure your details are correct in preparation for the ballot for Strike Action and Industrial action short of a strike. If your job title, address or workplace has recently changed, please contact the RMT Freephone Helpline number on 0800 376 3706, the RMT switchboard on 0207 387 4771 or e-mail info@rmt.org.uk. Additionally, if you know of a colleague who has recently moved or changed work location, then get them to call one of the above numbers, so we can amend their details and ensure they receive a voting paper.

I will inform you of any further developments and outcomes on these issues when they arise and I will write to you in due course.

Yours sincerely
 
Mick Cash
General Secretary