17 June 2019
RMT Press Office
SWR five days of strike action goes ahead tomorrow as company refuse to give assurances on safe operation
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that five days of strike action on South Western Railway are going ahead tomorrow. The company have continued to drag their heels in protracted talks over the guard guarantee after the union suspended action back in February in good faith based on written assurances over the rolling out of driver only operation.
The company have not even been prepared to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to Driver Controlled Operation with the role of the guard carved up completely - a position which has undermined union confidence and sparked fears of a stitch up.
In addition, the company have made it quite clear in talks with the union that the protection of their profit margins is a determining factor in their future operational model - putting profits before passenger safety.
As a result of SWR’s failure to move forwards on an agreement RMT members will take action as follows:
We instruct our SWR Guard, Commercial Guard and Driver members to take industrial action by not booking on for duty between 00:01 to 23:59 hours on the following dates.
Tuesday 18th June 2019
Wednesday 19th June 2019
Thursday 20th June 2019
Friday 21st June 2019
Saturday 22nd June 2019
Back in February – after a long and hard fight by RMT members – the train company pledged that “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies.” These specific competencies were to be agreed by the RMT and SWR. It was that promise that allowed RMT to suspend the action but since then it has been stalemate with the company rowing back on their public pledges.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action tomorrow. They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.
“Worse than that, the company have refused to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up. That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.
“For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and it is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been signed off. It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action.”
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