02:42PM, Wednesday 06 November 2019
Commuters may face disruption leading up to Christmas as workers for South Western Railway (SWR) have announced 27 days of strike during December as part of a long-running dispute over train guards.
The national union of Rail, Martime and Transport workers (RMT) announced yesterday that its members plan to take industrial action from Monday, December 2 to January 1.
There are scheduled breaks for the strike on December 12, the date of the general election, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said workers had been left with ‘no choice’ and said the dispute would continue for as long as SWR ‘refuse to give assruances’ on the future operational role of guards.
SWR said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the news and that targeting services in the run up to Christmas showed a lack of concern for customers.
RMT are instructing guards, commerical guards and driver members to not book on for duty from Monday, December 2, until Wednesday December 11, from Friday, December 13 until Tueday, December 24 and Friday, December 27 until January 1.
Mr Cash said: “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.
“The union remains available for talks.”
A spokesman from SWR said: “We are extremely disappointed that the RMT union has once again called for their members to take disruptive industrial action.
"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 focused 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."
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