19 April 2016
RMT Press Office:
RAIL UNION RMT said today that conductors on Southern services ,operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, have voted by massive majorities for action. The ballot, for both strike action and action short of a strike, is over the wholesale introduction of Driver Only Operation (DOO) that threatens jobs, conditions and public safety.
With 393 ballot papers sent out the vote recorded;
Strike Action. Cast 321 Yes 306 No 14 Spoilt 1.
Industrial Action Short of Strike. Cast 321 Yes 320 No 1 Spoilt 0.
The massive mandate for action will now be considered by RMT's executive.
The unions core demands are:
• No extension of DOO
• No Introduction of the new role of On-Board Supervisor
• No Conductor Redundancies.
The detail behind these issues is summarised as follows:
No Extension of DOO
This is a long standing policy of the RMT. The union believes that it is safer to have a conductor on the train and that those staff should retain their safety-critical role. The company intend to extend DOO from July 2016 across most of the Southern Network.
No Introduction of the new role of On-Board Supervisor
Southern intends to create new on-board train roles. Many staff have years of experience of both safety critical work and dealing with the public and these responsibilities are being diluted. RMT says it is shameful to treat loyal and experienced staff this way. RMT is insisting that the current role of the Conductor be maintained. The proposed On-Board Supervisors will have no safety critical responsibilities or door control.
No Conductor Redundancies
The introduction of the new grade will, in effect, mean that approximately 300 conductors will be forced into the new role of On-Board Supervisor or made redundant. RMT is appalled at the attempt to bulldoze staff into this new grade is, in effect, making the current role redundant.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT, supported by our ASLEF colleagues, is wholly opposed to the attack on the safety-critical conductor grades and the threat of Driver Only Operation. Our members on Southern GTR have given loyal and professional service to the company and are being rewarded by being forced into a new grade, having their role and responsibility reduced and their hard earned terms and conditions attacked.
"The anger at the threat to RMT members jobs, their role and the safety of Southern services is reflected in this massive vote for action which will now be considered by our executive.
“This company has already axed catering services, threatened ticket offices and delivered appalling levels of customer service in their drive to milk these routes for every penny they can regardless of the impact on safety, reliability and quality. It is no wonder they are the most hated rail franchise in Britain and the threat to the conductors is just another twist of the knife. These trains are desperately over-crowded and the conductors are the eyes and ears preventing a major tragedy on the platforms and carriages.
“RMT's demands could not be clearer and the union remains available for meaningful talks. "