Role of the Guard and Extension of DOO – South Western Railway

Our Ref: BR2/0146


11th June 2018

Dear Colleague,

Role of the Guard and Extension of DOO – South Western Railway

You will by now have received Andy Mellors latest correspondence in relation to our frustration at the lack of progress being made in resolving this dispute.

The Managing Director believes we are holding up talks as a result of calling further strike action.

Let us put some facts on the table. When the franchise was held by South West Trains there was an agreement in place for a Guard on every train. In August 2017 South Western Railway took over the franchise and immediately refused to honour that long standing agreement. In fact they ripped it up on day one.

Mr Mellors can go on and on about how their customers want us to get around the table and talk but SWR were not so keen to do so when they thought we would lose the second ballot. You, the members, returned a magnificent ‘Yes’ vote in both ballots in defending the safety critical role of the Guard – a positon supported by the travelling public, especially those who are vulnerable. The anti-trade union laws make it difficult enough to win the initial ballot but to win the second one was amazing. Management went into hiding and stopped negotiating hoping for a ‘No’ vote and are now complaining that the members are insisting on positive proposals – not cosy chats that can go on forever – but positive written proposals that secure the safety critical role of the Guard.

Members have been patient but have also shown great support and said enough is enough. You have taken 6 days of strike action since November 2017 and action short of a strike for a week this year. You were also going to take 5 days of strike action in May but this was suspended to allow constructive talks at ACAS. Constructive being the operative word. You have to ask yourself are SWR dragging out the discussions hoping for a third ballot?

We want to resolve this dispute make no mistake of that. We had an agreement with South West Trains that could easily have been transferred over to South Western Railways. Now we are asking the company to put forward positive concrete proposals that can be put to members.

Your National Executive Committee believe that it was necessary to put the forthcoming strike action on to put pressure on the company to come up with proposals that are acceptable to you and not sit in a talking shop in the hope members will be ground down to accepting a dilution of your role. That said the National Executive Committee will consider Mr Mellors letter tomorrow and I will advise you of their decision following the meeting.

Yours sincerely,


Mick Cash
General Secretary