27 days of strike action on South Western Railway announced by rail union

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South Western Railway's first fully-liveried Class 444 train arrives into the former international terminal at Waterloo station in central London as the train operating company launches its new brand.
Credit: RMT

UPDATE: South Western Railway has issued a response to this announcement. Please see below!

RMT has announced that a total of 27 days of strike action will take place in December on South Western Railway.

The strike action is taking place because of the long-running dispute about Driver Only Operation.

As a result of SWR’s failure to move forwards on an agreement RMT members will take action as follows:

RMT has instructed their Guard, Commercial Guards and Driver members to take the following strike action:-

  • Not to book on for duty from 00:01 on Monday 2nd December 2019 until 23:59 on Wednesday 11th December
  • Not to book on for duty from 00:01 on Friday 13th December until 23:59 on Tuesday 24th December 2019
  • Not to book on duty from 00:01 on Friday 27th December 2019 until 23:59 on the 1st January 2020
What did the officials say?

A South Western Railway spokesperson said:

“We are extremely disappointed that the RMT union has once again called for their members to take disruptive industrial action. The deliberate targeting of services up to, and during, the Christmas period is typical of the lack of concern the RMT continue to have for our customers.

“The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train. That is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement if the RMT work with us to agree a method of operation for our new trains which fully utilises the new technology to improve safety, security and accessibility as well as day-to-day performance. Instead the RMT appear purely focussed on keeping control of train doors in a misguided attempt to hold power over the industry.

“Whilst we have shown commitment to the role of the guard by introducing over 80 additional guard roles since the start of our franchise, the RMT do not have the long-term interests of either our customers or our colleagues, including their members, at the heart of their actions.

“We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during strike action.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.

“At the last meeting we held with SWR principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again. As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard we will remain in dispute.

“I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR. 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 agreed.

“The union remains available for talks.”

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