Southern have hit back at the latest round of strike action announced by the RMT Union.
Earlier today (25 August), the Union confirmed ticket office staff would walk out for 24 hours on 7 September, in a row over the introduction of Station Hosts. The industrial action falls on the same day that conductors are also due to go on strike.
Alex Foulds, GTR’s Passenger Services Director, said, “This is a cynical and deliberate stunt by the RMT to try and bring our trains to a standstill by co-ordinating strike action on two fronts on the same day to cause maximum disruption, delay and damage to our passengers’ everyday lives and the economy. The RMT leadership is playing politics with innocent people who are simply seeking to go about their business with employers, family and friends. It is a shameful and pitiful act and shows everyone their true colours and motivation, come what may and whoever they hurt.
“During face-to-face discussions with local union officials from the RMT and TSSA last Monday, we took our original proposals off the table, and agreed new proposals with them - a six months’ pilot at eight stations using volunteer staff to test the new Station Host role. It was a very productive meeting and the RMT officials present were content to put the revised pilot proposal forward to the RMT leadership for endorsement. We are therefore perplexed that they have decided to call this strike day in protest at proposals that no longer exist and when a solution had been found. The only conclusion is they are determined to strike even if there is no longer any justification.
“The Station Staff who voted in this ballot may now be asking, like us, why there is no mention of the revised pilot proposals in their statement today. They have ignored the will of their members, with only one in four voting for strike action and are now attempting to drag station staff out on strike over proposals which we have already withdrawn.
“These pilots would be manned by volunteers on a secondment basis and would allow concerns around personal safety and cash handling to be addressed. Staff would keep their jobs, get more money and many would work fewer hours.
“To call a strike over proposals that no longer exist is a stunning own goal by the RMT leadership.”