13 December 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT announces strike action on South Western Railway and Greater Anglia in separate disputes over guards and safety
RAIL UNION RMT today announced strike action on Greater Anglia and South Western Railway later this month in separate disputes over the threat to guards and the safety of the travelling public.
On Greater Anglia members will take strike action from 00.01 to 23.59 hours on Wednesday 27th December 2017
On South Western Railway members will take strike action from 00.01 hours to 23.59 on Sunday 31st December 2017
The union also revealed that yesterday it had met the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling and the rail minister Paul Maynard to try and resolve all of the current rail safety disputes but as a result of the meeting there seemed to be “contradictory messages, confusion and lack of clarity” coming from Ministers and the Department for Transport that made it extremely difficult to negotiate.
On the one hand the union were told at the meeting that the Government is not opposed to a second person on the train and it was up to the RMT and employers to reach an agreement. The union was also offered further talks to discuss concerns around accessibility in respect of driver only trains.
Then within an hour of the meeting finishing RMT General Secretary Mick Cash received a contradictory letter from Chris Grayling asking that the union accepts the principle of driver controlled operation, which is the same model as driver only operation. The union has also subsequently been made aware that Chris Grayling has written to the train companies with the same letter.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“It’s the continuing failure of the train companies and their political puppet masters in Government to make any attempt whatsoever to resolve these disputes over rail safety that has led us to call action today and the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused lays fairly and squarely at their door.
“At the meeting yesterday with the Secretary of State Chris Grayling and the Rail Minister Paul Maynard we were told that we could reach a deal with the employers to keep a second person on the train and we were also offered further talks to discuss our concerns around driver only trains and accessibility.”
“But then within an hour of that meeting I received letter from Chris Grayling asking the union to accept the principle of Driver Only Operation which as everyone knows reduces accessibility because there is no longer guard to assist older and disabled passengers who need assistance. Astonishingly I have also been made aware that Chris Grayling has written to the train companies with the same letter.
“There is chaos and confusion in the rail industry surrounding the Governments positon which makes it almost impossible to negotiate and I have written to Chris Grayling to express my concern at this lack of clarity and contradictory messages but also to offer further talks not least on the vital issue of accessibility.
“It really should be straight forward - the Scottish and Welsh Governments have agreed to keep the guards on our trains so there is no reason why the UK government cannot as well.”