18 May 2016
RMT Press Office
RMT Southern Guards Strike "Solid and Determined" in fight for rail safety
RAIL UNION RMT said today that industrial action involved hundreds of guards on Southern Rail is “solid and determined” this morning as staff fight to put safety before profits on the routes across the franchise.
The union said today that it is continuing to pick up excellent support from the general public at stations across Southern Rail despite GTR blowing hundreds of thousands of pounds of fare-payers cash on an anti-union advertising campaign.
RMT continues to engage passengers directly to press home the message on the three core issues at the heart of the strike:
• Removal of conductors from trains
• Safety under threat
• Company putting profits before safety
The message that the money saved from axing the guards will go to subsidise rail services in France has angered the public and polls show that passengers recognise that the fight to retain the safety-qualified guards on Southern services is fundamental to the safety regime on the seriously over-stretched and over-crowded trains.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:
“Our guards members on Southern are solid and determined this morning and the union welcomes the support from the travelling public as they recognise that this dispute is about defending safety critical jobs and services against the drive for cash-driven cuts that would see those services hacked to ribbons.
"With commuters paying thousands of pounds a year for their annual tickets on Southern there can be no-explanation for the removal of the guards other than a central obsession in the board room for putting increased profits above public safety. That message is ringing out loud and clear as the dispute continues."
“Passengers are only too well aware that this is rail franchise that has already axed on-board catering services, continues to threaten ticket office and station services and is now coming for the guards who are the front line troops in the delivery of safety. All of those cuts plans are driven by one factor and that is the over-arching demand from Southern GTR to max up their financial returns. That money is then shipped straight across the Channel to subsidise their French operations. It doesn't even touch the sides.
“RMT now expects that the strength of feeling demonstrated by our members on Southern again this morning will trigger serious and meaningful talks with the company and the lifting of the threat to jobs and safety.”