Our Ref: BR2/0146

16th April 2019

Dear Colleague,


As you are aware, the union and South Western Railway have been in discussions over the Safety Critical Role of the Guard. Talks have now taken place between our two organisations. However, the progress of these discussions has been long winded and slow.

The Unions National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has instructed me to write to SWR to raise our concerns with these talks. I have informed the company that the NEC is extremely frustrated that no progress is being made on the method of operation, which is key to ending this dispute. Furthermore I have advised the company that the Union would now like to see a series of dates booked with our negotiating team and their company so this matter can be dealt with.

Additionally, I am arranging a meeting with our Company Council to discuss the progress that has been made during all discussions. However, the company have been informed that  should the union not see sufficient progress being made and should there be no developments or dates set out for out for discussions, the union will have to consider all other options including taking further industrial action.

Furthermore, the latest report from our Lead Officer is quoted below to provide further information on the current progress of talks.

“22 March 2019 – ACAS facilitated discussions between SWR and RMT. Role of the Guard and Extension of DOO.

This document has been produced to capture a summary of the progress of discussions to date. Those items marked as ‘Agreed’ are provisionally agreed under the framework agreement of 15 February 2019, which sets out that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

The following items are agreed:

• South Western Railway (SWR) confirms that on the introduction of any new or other modified rolling stock, each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies. Specific Safety Critical competencies shall be agreed by SWR and RMT. • RMT are open to discussions on the method of operation and use of new technology on Class 701 stock to maximise customer benefits in relation to safety, performance and customer service. • RMT and SWR agree to discuss potential areas that would lead to upskilling the role of the guard. • SWR and RMT agree that HAZOP and risk assessment for 701s should start as soon as possible and that these will need to be validated before passenger operation.

The following items continue to require further discussion:

• SWR believe risk assessments are required to determine the duties of the Guard during train dispatch • RMT require confirmation that there will be no dilution to the role of the Guard and currently view potential changes to operation as an area of dilution. • SWR believe that changes to the role of the Guard can be achieved without dilution and that the risk assessments will determine the level of safety critical training required. RMT believe that the competencies already in place are suitable.”

Therefore, I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will inform you of any further updates once they have come available. I would once again thank you all for your continued support and determination during this dispute.


Yours sincerely  


Mick Cash

General Secretary