Our Ref: BR2/0146

24th October 2017

“Please be assured we will fully respect the democratic process of the ballot and the outcome whatever that may be.”
Andy Mellors
Managing Director
South Western Railway
15th September 2017

Dear Colleague,


I am writing in relation to the above matter and further to my previous correspondence dated 3rd October 2017, in which I advised you of the phenomenal ballot result that was returned in favour of both Strike Action and Action Short of a Strike.

You will remember that you received a letter from Andy Mellors, Managing Director of South Western Railway, who as you can see in the above quote, stated that he would FULLY respect the democratic process of the ballot and its outcome. As you are more than aware the result of the recent ballot was a resounding YES to keep the Safety Critical Role of the Guard and ensure the safe running of the railway. This ballot would not have been necessary if the company had provided the assurances of maintaining the same level of commitment as the previous franchise holders, Stagecoach. The guarantees we are looking for are that South Western Railway do not change anything, but, simply keep them as they are with a guaranteed Guard on every train with full safety responsibilities.

The company has been informed of the result and is all too aware of the outcome of the ballot and that you and your colleagues have voted overwhelmingly to keep the guard on the train. A meeting with the company has recently taken place in which we sought a straight answer to a straight question. We made the union’s position abundantly clear that our policy is to have a Guard on every train. Unfortunately, the company failed to provide your union with any guarantees and would not commit to ensuring a safety critical guard would remain on their trains.  Now is the time for the company to stick its promises and start respecting the democratic process of the ballot and the outcomes. It is becoming clear that the company will make promises to you and your colleagues through personal letters and videos, but, has no problems breaking these commitments. The level of deceit is insulting and it is about time South Western Railway stop saying one thing and doing another.

The National Executive Committee has recently considered this matter and believes that the only course of action is to now send the company a clear message that we will do everything possible to defend the Safety critical role of the guard. Therefore, all Commercial Guard, Guard and Train Driver members are instructed to take strike action and not to book on for any turns of duty that commence between:-

•    0001 Hours on Wednesday 8th November 2017 until 2359 hours on Thursday 9th November 2017.

The NEC believes that our campaign of industrial action will need to be ramped up in the New Year should there continue to be no movement from the company to offer a satisfactory outcome to the dispute. Members should therefore be prepared for the possibility of a sustained period of industrial action in early January 2018.

Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder against this company’s corrosive plans to dilute the Safety Critical Role of the Guard. I urge you all to fully support the strike action and let South Western Railway know that we want them to start making commitments and guaranteeing the guard role. We must leave the company with no doubt that we want them to stick by their promises and respect the outcome of the ballot. Let’s stand together and show a united response against this company’s plan to introduce DOO.


Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary