Our Ref BR2/0146
30th August 2019
ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY
First of all I want to thank you for your continued support for your union and the rock solid action that began today on SWR. We met with the company yesterday following which we received a letter from them outlining their position. I have responded to them today as below: -
Thanks for your letter of yesterday’s date. You will have noted from my reaction to the Powerpoint Presentation you gave at our meeting yesterday my despair that you continue to knowingly fail to address our concerns on this vital issue and are using smoke and mirrors tactics to do so.
This dispute is about Driver Only Operation and the role of the guard and you know what needs to be done as we have a number of agreements on other train operating companies that have resolved the same issues. We have suspended industrial action on several occasions in order to facilitate discussions to try to reach an agreement.
Your Powerpoint Presentation yesterday was based on your view of what you believe is the best way forward for Train Despatch on SWR. However I know there are alternative operational methods you have explored and have requested copies of the relevant paperwork so that we can consider this. Once again I ask you to provide this information to us at the earliest opportunity.
I want to make it abundantly clear that, as I stated yesterday, the reason the industrial action has been called is that our members continue be frustrated by what they see as clear diversionary and delaying tactics on your part. I had hoped that yesterday’s meeting would allay their fears and see some movement from you to address our concerns. Regrettably this has not proven to be the case and you have conducted yourselves in a disingenuous manner. Your Powerpoint presentation did not address our concerns and you knew it would not do so before you even delivered it. Consequently we have no choice but to continue with the industrial action that has been called.
In addition to the above we have had concerns raised by our Driver members as to what your Powerpoint Presentation means for them. Furthermore it is not clear to us from your Powerpoint Presentation what this would mean for our members who carry out train despatch on platforms. It is clear to us that Guards and Drivers alike are highly sceptical of your approach. I reiterate my message to you yesterday and ask that you provide us with a copy of all relevant paperwork behind the presentation you gave as well as all the details and information of the other operational methods that you have explored.
In my time as General Secretary of RMT I have been involved in many DOO disputes and have negotiated and reached solutions with employers which have resulted in agreements that have stopped the necessity of industrial action. However from what I have witnessed in our dealings with SWR in this dispute I am deeply sceptical and frustrated at the manner in which you continue to conduct yourselves. I firmly believe you need to take a long hard look at yourselves and ask if RMT can reach agreement with other TOCs on the same issue why you cannot do the same?
I am happy to discuss this further once we get the information as requested above. Hopefully you will be much more open to what we suggest at such a meeting.”
Once again I want to thank you for your solidarity and determination in this dispute. I will keep you fully informed of any further developments.