Commuters hoping for a Christmas getaway on the trains in Eastbourne could have their plans foiled by more strike action.
The RMT Union has today (3 November), confirmed guards on Southern will walk out for three days from 00:01 Thursday 22 December to 23.59 Saturday 24 December. They’ll again take industrial action over New Year, from 00:01 Saturday 31 December to 23:59 2 January 2017.
The Union says the action is a result of Govia Thameslink Rail’s refusal to give a guarantee that a second, safety-critical member of staff on all services which currently have a guard on board.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Yet again the sheer pig-headedness of the company and the Government means that our members are being forced to take further industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern Rail.
“Govia Thameslink and the Government have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute. RMT has called repeatedly for the Transport Secretary Chris Graying to get out of his bunker, get hold of the company and get round the negotiating table. He continues to ignore us. If Government ministers can meet with our colleagues from the Prison Officers Association over safety in prisons, then there is no reason whatsoever why they can’t meet with RMT over safety on our railways.
“This week we have seen repeated chaos on Southern Rail services that has shown once again that they are simply incapable of running safe and reliable services. The only obstacle to their removal from their management contract is the Government who are calling the shots and pulling the strings behind the scenes while publicly claiming the dispute is between RMT and GTR. It is total nonsense but is a tactic which is deliberately blocking any chance of progress. That blockage has to be cleared as matter of urgency.
"In the light of the continuing public anger at the absolute state of the Southern Rail operation it is disgraceful that neither the company or the Government are prepared to engage and are continuing to attempt to impose DOO in the interests of putting profit before safety. We call on them to get round the negotiating table rather than jamming their heads in the sand."
In response to the latest announcement from the RMT Union a spokesman for Southern said, “Not content with causing months of misery, the RMT has now hit a new low and is determined to cancel Christmas for the travelling public. These latest strikes will not just hit families wanting to get home for Christmas but also the shops and businesses for whom Christmas is their busiest time. These strikes are spiteful, vindictive and pointless given the majority of conductors have now signed up to the new on-board role. This has never been about safety; it’s purely about the RMT hanging on to outdated working practices and union power."