Our Ref: BR2/0146

15th February 2017

Dear Colleague,


I write further to my letter dated 8th February 2017, in which I informed you of our acceptance to meet with the company despite their best efforts to stall the process and block any meaningful talks.

As always the union entered the talks with Southern (GTR) in good faith, however, it soon became clear that the only thing the company was interested in was forcing through driver only operation further and faster than previously stated and with safety and access to services not even on their agenda. This total disregard for passenger safety, wellbeing and disgraceful attitude has once again wrecked the talk’s process. As mentioned in previous correspondence we raised the matter of other parties, stating that the deal guaranteed a second safety critical member of staff on every train. Far from being the case it is now clear that in fact the new agreement significantly expands the number of routes that will now be operated under DOO. The number of trains that management will operate in DOO mode will double. The company also made it clear that all of Southern could now go DOO and the only factor preventing this was there were insufficient trains with the required CCTV. Another circumstance when a train could operate DOO without the Conductor did not include industrial action, now it does under the guise of OBS “absence.” contrary to public assertions that this is not a “strike breakers charter”.

Additionally the deal does not guarantee a safety critical person on every train. There are far more circumstances when the train can leave without the second person but it has also been clarified the OBS will definitely not be safety critical. Instead the OBS must take the initiative themselves and can volunteer (it is not compulsory) to be trained in a safety critical task related to dealing with circumstances when there is degraded infrastructure.  Therefore, even if the OBS is on a train they will not have the full range of safety critical competencies and if they have not volunteered will not even be trained in certain safety critical tasks.

The company have deliberately wrecked talks with this union and made a mockery of the negotiating process. The company have continued to completely ignore the safety issues at the heart of the matter at this dispute. Therefore,  the National Executive Committee has considered this matter and are instructing you and your colleagues not  to book on for any shifts that commence between:-

•    0001 hours and 2359 hours on Wednesday 22nd February 2017.

I would like to once again thank you and your colleagues for your strength and determination throughout this dispute. I will of course keep you fully advised of any developments as they happen.  

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary