‘WE WANT all trade unions to come out in our support if any of our members is sacked. Behind this is a threat to the right to strike,’ RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley told News Line yesterday.
He was speaking as Southern RMT guards began their three-day strike in the latest round of 14 days of strike action over plans for driver only trains.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Despite all of the threats and bullying from the company RMT can confirm that the strike action is rock solid and determined again this morning across the Southern Rail network as we fight to put rail safety and access before the profits of the failed Govia Thameslink operation.
‘This action has been forced on us once again by the arrogance and inaction of Govia Thameslink and the government who have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute or in tackling the daily chaos on Southern.
‘The union has made every effort, right up to the wire, to get talks back on track at ACAS but Southern have deliberately slammed that door in our face. Passengers will be rightly furious at the sheer contempt that Southern have shown for both staff and the public alike.
‘Once again, this morning Southern have been peddling the lie that this dispute is about who opens and closes the doors when, in fact, it’s about the retention of a guaranteed, second safety-critical member of staff, with the full range of safety competencies, on all current services. Despite all the spin and bluster the company refuse to give that guarantee.’
On the early morning picket line at Victoria station, RMT regional organiser Paul Cox told News Line: ‘This dispute is about safety. These people are standing out here when they”ve been offered a better pay and pensions package. What the company fail to understand is they care about the railway.
‘There has to be someone on the train to protect safety. Members are tired of spin doctors deceiving the public. The public supported them and they worked overtime to help the passengers. Southern threatened to take us to court. The behaviour of the GTR boss is disgraceful, it’s like Victorian times.’
Unite London regional committee member Joanne Harris said: ‘We fully support the guards’ action. We feel the government is behind this, that it is out to bring the RMT down. This kind of attack affects all unions. We need to support each other. The trouble is we’ve a lacklustre TUC.’