THE RMT rail union announced yesterday that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will strike for 24 hours next Wednesday, and Tube drivers will strike on the Central Line from 9pm next Tuesday to 8.59pm on Wednesday.
The Southern rail strike is the latest in the on-going disputes over the safety impact of the extension of Driver Only Operation and the removal of guards from services. The announcement comes after Tuesday’s talks between RMT and Southern in the guards dispute were ‘deliberately wrecked’ by the company as they made a mockery of the negotiating process and chose to completely ignore the safety issues at the heart of the matter.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said: ‘The abject failure by Southern rail in yesterday’s talks to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action. These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on their trains.
‘Instead they have shifted the goal posts even further and have now created a “strike-breakers’ charter” where one of the numerous new conditions where trains can run driver-only is during industrial action. That is simply scandalous and a measure of the betrayal of our members as a result of the TUC-brokered deal with Southern in the drivers’ dispute.
‘The full detail of Southern’s plan is far worse than anyone could have anticipated. This is dire news, not just for staff, but for passengers who rightly demand a safe, reliable and accessible service. RMT will not walk away from the fight for a railway that puts public safety before private profit. It is now down to Southern/GTR to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.’
On the Central Line action, Cash said: ‘RMT negotiators have made strenuous efforts through the ACAS machinery to resolve this dispute but the door has been slammed in our faces. To up the ante, LUL have now written to us confirming that they will be bulldozing through the displacements regardless.
‘Let us be in no doubt. If LU are allowed to get away with this move on the Central Line they will start shunting drivers around the combine at the drop of a hat regardless of the consequences. Staff across London Underground are angry and the company would be wise to recognise that. This latest phase of action is on and RMT remains available for serious talks.’