Our Ref: BR2/0146
5 December 2019
ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY
You are now in the fourth day of the current round of strike action to defend the role of the guard and, added to the 42 strike days you have already participated in, you and your colleagues are an inspiration to other RMT members and, in fact, the entire trade union movement. You have voted for strike action five times over the last two years, showing a determination to fight for a safe and accessible railway and resist management’s attempts to downgrade your safety critical role and introduce a questionable train despatch regime.
You will know that your negotiators had hopes that the last-minute talks held last week would see a resolution to this dispute or at the very least give us the platform to reach agreement on the way forward. What they were met with at these talks, however, was the same old company intransigence and reluctance to reach a solution. That, as you obviously know, led to the 27 days of strike action this month to commence.
I have pressed the company again this week for talks on the basis that it would be in everyone’s interests to reach an amicable agreement. If there is a deal to be done – and your union is absolutely convinced there is and has repeatedly said so – which would cost the company nothing and which would give the safety and accessibility guarantees at the platform/train interface, then we need to get the talks done.
The response to this invitation from SWR stated that it required your union’s position prior to any discussions taking place, but I have advised the company that this is what the discussions are for – in order for your negotiators to set out our position and find a resolution. I have therefore requested that conciliation service Acas uses its good offices to get both your union and the company back round the table and I will advise you of any progress made in our efforts to secure further talks.
Your union’s National Executive Committee called this current round of 27 days strike action this month reluctantly, but took the decision due to management’s continued intransigence and delaying tactics which they have adopted throughout this dispute. In doing so, the NEC also recognised that this will put pressure on you and your families at a particularly difficult time of the year with the festive period approaching. Little hardships are being suffered by the company of course as it is being bailed out by the government to the tune of £86 million.
In view of this, the NEC instructed me to allocate £600,000 from the union’s general and hardship funds to support our members who participate in this strike action and on the following basis:
A payment to be made on 23rd December 2019 for the action taking place from 2nd December to 21st December 2019
A second payment to be made on 24th January 2020 to cover the action taking place from 22nd December 2019 to 1st January 2020
To access these payments, you have to speak to your Local Representatives who will then make the necessary checks on the action taken and arrange for the payments to be made to you.
I can also advise you that I have written to the wider Trade Union and Labour movement calling for support for you and your colleagues and for the general campaign to resist further DOO encroachment in the railway industry, which is now at a crucial stage.
Your current efforts to resist DOO is having a major impact and gathering public support. SWR is under immense pressure to change its tactics and take part in discussions to reach agreement with your union. I would very much like to report in the next few days that not only have talks taken place but that progress has been made. But that is down to SWR agreeing to meet.
As I state above, this strike action is recognised as a mighty show of solidarity and strength by other RMT members and by those in the wider trade union movement. It is also seen as a vital part of the campaign for a more safe and accessible railway for the travelling public. You are to be congratulated on this continued support for this campaign and for supporting your union.
UNITY IS STRENGTH!