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

To All Guards, Commercial Guards and Drivers SWR

Our Ref: BR2/0146

21st June 2019



Dear Colleague,

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

First, and definitely foremost, I would like to congratulate you on the magnificent support you have shown during this week of strike action. It has let SWR know that they were sorely mistaken if they thought their stalling would weaken your resolve. Four ballots in and it has been as strong as ever. You truly are an inspiration to the whole Trades Union Movement.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Management really do have to stop being evasive and negotiate in good faith as has been the case with Arriva Rail North. Following over 20 meetings with ARN - SWR have held only half a dozen in the same period which tells you everything you need to know about the seriousness of their intentions - we have now, with the assistance of ACAS, reached an agreement in principle on the following key points:-

• The operational mode will utilise intermediate or conventional working
• Every train will continue to run with a Conductor on board
• Conductors will continue to be clearly designated as safety critical
• Conductors will retain the full suite of safety and operational competencies, including platform-train interface and dispatch
• In intermediate working Drivers will have a greater responsibility for control of the doors with platform train interface/dispatch responsibility to be shared between Conductor and Driver

Your National Executive Committee has noted the significant progress made including the fact that the operational mode will be intermediate or conventional working which is in line with union policy. They have also noted that there will be further discussion on the specific effects of the mode of operation, are comfortable with this, and are happy that there will be intensive talks throughout July and August with the aim of concluding the whole process in September.

So the ball is firmly in SWR management’s court. Arriva Rail North and the Union’s negotiating team have proved that with a sensible and honest approach meaningful negotiations can take place. Hopefully the knowledge that yet another train operating company has been willing to sit down and seriously negotiate may concentrate SWR’s mind. We want an agreement that is fair and addresses your concerns and retains a guard on every train with safety critical responsibilities.

Potential unsafe incidents – information sought

Finally we are being made aware anecdotally, often via social media, of incidents during the strike action including potential unsafe practices. If you are aware of any incidents I would urge you to let us have the specific details (incident, date, time, place etc.) and include photos if possible. You can give these to your local representative or send them direct to Head Office at the following email address and we will raise them with the appropriate authority.

Once again congratulations on the magnificent support you and your colleagues have shown not just this week but throughout this fight.

Best wishes,


Mick Cash
General Secretary