Rail strike looms as talks break down

Govia Thameslink Railway's (GTR) proposals to settle the conductors' dispute and avert next week's five-day long strike have been rejected today (Friday August 5) by the RMT union.

Friday, 5th August 2016, 5:44 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:24 am

Talks at Acas broke down after three days of discussion at which GTR tabled an eight-point compromise plan to settle the dispute and stop the strike action.

However, the RMT union says responsibility for the disruption lies with Govia Thameslink and the Government.

Govia Thameslink Passenger Service Director Angie Doll said: “We have gone the extra mile with our compromise offer, but the RMT has made it clear they are not prepared to negotiate. They did not want to discuss the role of the On-Board Supervisor and remain rigidly opposed to evolving the role of on- board staff to focus more on customers. We are deeply disappointed and angry on behalf of our passengers at this stance, which will cause misery for our passengers and untold damage to the local economy in the south-east. The RMT’s strike is unnecessary, unacceptable and unjustified.

“We plan to have just as many services staffed with On-Board Supervisors as we do with Conductors today. We simply want the flexibility to be able to run a train without a second member of staff on board, if they are unavailable so we can get our passengers on their way. To provide assurances that we would do this only when absolutely necessary, we said we’d agree with the RMT a list of binding rules to dictate when this could happen – such as during severe disruption. Their refusal to even discuss this demonstrates their complete unwillingness to compromise.

“Our proposals match modern-day customer service to modern-day trains. The only difference is drivers will close the doors, freeing up our on-board staff to provide the best customer service. Our On-Board Supervisors will also be able to work on any service, which means more efficient working and fewer cancellations for our passengers.”

An RMT press statement says: “Talks have now been collapsed by the Government and GTR and next week’s action goes ahead despite the fact that RMT made a solid proposal this morning to suspend the strike action if Govia matched the offer that had enabled industrial action on Scotrail to be suspended.

“It was clear during the talks that external forces were preventing Govia from responding positively to a proposal that simply guaranteed the jobs and safety critical role of the guards in a mirror to what the union is being offered elsewhere in the industry.

“The rejection of that offer means that the responsibility for the disruption next week lies at the door of the Government and their Southern rail contractors Govia Thameslink.”

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