RMT strike action to defend guards safety role

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South Western Railway pickets with their banner during their last strike action in December

A FURTHER two days of strike action will take place on South Western Railway next week after RMT Guard members voted for industrial action for an historic sixth time.

The strike is over the company’s unremitting failure to give assurances that its new operational model won’t move to Driver Controlled Operation – with the role of the guard butchered completely.
Therefore, South Western Railway Guard, Commercial Guard and Train Driver members are instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between:

  • 10.00 hours on Monday 9th March 2020 until 09.59 hours on Tuesday 10th March 2020
  • 10.00 hours on Thursday 12th March 2020 until 09.59 hours on Friday 13th March 2020

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further two days of strike action on South Western Railway.
‘They have shown an incredible amount of solidarity and voted for industrial action for an historic sixth time in one of the union’s longest-running disputes.
‘We are appalled by management’s bullying and harassment tactics in their attempt to get our members return to work.
‘The company’s constant barrage of lengthy letters every time our Guard members take legal and legitimate industrial action is intimidating, degrading, humiliating and offensive. RMT will not tolerate our members being bullied or intimidated by any company at any time whether we are in dispute or not.
‘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.’
Meanwhile, strike action by tube drivers on London Underground’s Bakerloo line was rock solid between Friday last week and Monday this week as RMT members fought for passenger and staff safety in the face of timetable changes bulldozed through by LU bosses.
RMT General Secretary Cash said on Monday: ‘RMT members remain rock solid and determined in their action this morning in a dispute which is simply about forcing LU bosses and the Mayor to wake up and take seriously the impact on staff of their timetable changes and the wider implications for the safety culture on the tube.
‘The bottom line is that you cannot place intolerable stress and pressure on tube drivers that impacts on their safety-critical role and that is what this dispute is all about.’
The Bakerloo line strike is over the impact on train drivers of unworkable timetable changes that place operators under intolerable levels of personal stress.
Ahead of the strike action, the RMT said: ‘Sadiq Khan, the London Labour Mayor, chose point blank to ignore union warnings on the risk to passengers and staff alike and snubbed an opportunity this week to reach a settlement that puts safety first.
‘Despite intensive efforts by RMT negotiators to broker a solution, the LU side have paid nothing but lip service and have failed to come up with a plan that would deal with the issues at the heart of the dispute.
‘As a result, the strike action goes ahead with the widespread disruption across the weekend and into next week solely the responsibility of London Underground and their intransigence when the union had made it quite clear that there is a deal to be done.
‘A ballot for action covering driver members produced a 95% vote for action.’
Cash said: ‘RMT is angry and frustrated that hard work by our reps aimed at reaching a negotiated solution to this dispute has been wasted as the company have played us along and failed to make any kind of serious progress.
‘Their behaviour has been nothing short of outrageous as they ignore clear union warnings on the safety of passengers and staff alike.
‘That failure by London Underground chiefs mean that the action goes ahead and the London Labour Mayor, as chair of TFL, has to share responsibility for that.
‘Drivers voted overwhelmingly for action in this dispute which is all about the management imposing timetable changes on the Bakerloo line without any serious recognition of the stress impact on the operators expected to implement them.
‘The bottom line is that you cannot place intolerable stress and pressure on tube drivers that impacts on their safety-critical role and that is what this dispute is all about.’
The RMT also said on Monday that pressure is growing on Labour Mayor Khan to commit to ending the privatisation of Underground cleaning after the union received a statement of support from the Labour Group in the London Assembly.
The statement from Len Duvall AM (Assembly Member), leader of the Labour Group, pledges the Labour AMs’ support for ‘action to secure better working conditions and job security for cleaners on the London Underground, as well as making the case for bringing cleaners in-house as a viable option for a new contract in 2022.’
RMT General Secretary Cash said: ‘It’s good news that London’s labour movement is uniting around this campaign.
‘These cleaners are unsung heroes of the Underground and it’s a disgrace that they’ve been privatised on the basis that they are supposedly “non-core”.
‘The truth is that they’re central to a clean and safe passenger experience. I hope Sadiq Khan is listening and I repeat my call on him to commit to bringing these workers in house.’
The statement from Len Duvall, Leader, Labour Group, London Assembly, said: ‘Thank you for bringing this campaign to my attention, I am replying on behalf of the Labour Group.
‘We support action to secure better working conditions and job security for cleaners on the London Underground, as well as making the case for bringing cleaners in-house as a viable option for a new contract in 2022.
‘I understand that my colleagues Florence Eshalomi and Navin Shah have written to Heidi Alexander asking questions about the contract leading up to its end date.
‘I am aware that you are currently negotiating with Transport for London and I hope you have a successful outcome.’
This statement follows the news that the majority of Labour’s prospective candidates for the London Assembly and almost 100 London Labour Councillors publicly called on the Mayor to end the privatisation of Underground cleaning.

  • Tower Hamlets residents in London’s East End are facing the prospect of ‘overflowing bins and piles of rubbish’ following the announcement of strike action by Veolia refuse workers over unsettled holiday pay arrears, Unite said on Tuesday.

Bin collections and street cleaning services in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are set to stop after workers at Veolia, which holds the refuse, recycling and street cleaning contract for the borough, voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over an unsettled collective holiday pay claim.
Despite reaching an agreement with Unite and other trade unions on the calculation of holiday pay in August 2018, Veolia owes around 150 workers significant sums in arrears.
The firm’s UK waste management division generated revenues of nearly £1bn in the first half of 2019.
Unite, which has about 250 members at Veolia, said that instead of settling the claim collectively the company had deterred staff from claiming the arrears by requiring individuals to launch ‘complicated and drawn out’ legal proceedings.
Unite members voted overwhelmingly (96.5 per cent) in favour of strike action in a ballot with a 70 per cent turnout that was held earlier this month.
Seven days of strike action beginning on Monday 9 March at 15:00 and ending on Monday 16 March have now been set.
Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: ‘Veolia has caused these strikes by attempting to weasel out of paying the substantial holiday arrears it owes staff. The company now has to answer to Tower Hamlets residents who will be understandably angry at having to put up with overflowing bins and piles of rubbish.
‘Our members have been left with no choice but to vote for strike action after Veolia forced each of them to launch complicated and drawn out legal claims to retrieve holiday pay that was theirs to begin with. This was nothing but a dishonourable attempt to put hard working staff off claiming what was owed.
‘Veolia still has time to resolve this dispute before rubbish collections grind to a halt by agreeing to provide the collective financial settlement that should have been offered to begin with.’