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31 August 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT declares formal dispute over threat to guards on South Western Railway after company refuses to give basic assurances
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that a failure by South Western Railway franchise holder First MTR to give clear, cast-iron assurances over the future of guards on their trains has now triggered a formal dispute with the company. The union also confirmed that preparations for a ballot are now underway on South Western Railway and Island Line.
RMT will commence with a ballot for strike action and action short of strike in the form of ban on overtime and a rest day working ban. Guards, Commercial Guards and Driver members on South Western Railway and Island Line will be included in the ballot.
RMT has spent months since First MTR won the SWR franchise from Stagecoach trying to get a water-tight pledge out of the new owners on the guards but we have been met with a barrage of spin and prevarication. A final attempt to pin the company down to a straight answer to a straight question this week has failed leaving RMT with no choice but to take the issue into dispute.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:
“RMT has given repeated opportunities for First MTR to give us the assurances we have sought over the future role of the guards on their trains throughout the length of the new South Western franchise. They have refused to give us those guarantees and it is that failure which leaves RMT with no option but to declare a formal dispute with the company and to move towards a ballot for action.
“This dispute can be easily resolved if the company are prepared to stick to existing agreements, give staff and passengers alike a guarantee of a second, safety-critical member of staff on all current services and an assurance that safety and access are the absolute priority.
“Guards on SWR have been hailed as “legends” in company publicity material. It is time for First MTR to stand by those legends and to withdraw the threat to throw them off the trains. That is the message that RMT will be taking out to the fare-paying public as we step up our campaign.
“RMT remains available for talks.”