Another strike by conductors with the RMT Union will hit Eastbourne Railway Station.
The union has confirmed its members, working on the Southern network will walk out for 24 hours on Monday 23 January. They say they won’t give up their fight to ensure a second safety-critical staff member to be on board trains.
The move follows several cases of disabled passengers either being left unable to travel under the new driver-only operated trains in Hampden Park, or almost being left behind at Pevensey, owing to a lack of on board supervisor. These are examples of what the union feared would happen.
Paul Cox from the RMT said, "We have always said this is about the public and the safety of the travelling public and we make no distinction between able bodied and disabled. The service should be available to the public - they should be able to turn up and go. After Southern gave us their word they would not change the arrangements for people with disabilities have gone ahead and done that and we think it’s quite deplorable. People should not have to book they should be able to turn up and go."
Southern continue to insist that driver-only is a safe method of operation and say that although trains have run recently without an on board supervisor, they stress had they been running under the old system, the lack of a guard would have resulted in the train not running at all.
A Southern spokesperson said, “It’s important we focus now on moving forward to end this sorry saga of strike misery. This wholly unjustified industrial action is causing utter misery and hardship to the travelling public and is having a significant impact on people’s work and family lives and the regional economy. We remain ready to meet the RMT leadership, as we do ASLEF, anytime, anyplace, anywhere to find a way to end their disputes.
“These strikes are not about safety; it’s purely about the unions trying to turn the clock back, hang on to outmoded working practices, which technology now eradicates, and union power. We need to modernise our trains and the services passengers want. Every train that previously had a conductor before 1 January now has either a conductor or a safety-competent on-board supervisor rostered to work. We need to end these strikes and end them now.”
Businesses in Eastbourne are joining the rally of calls for a solution to be found, with the Chamber of Commerce saying the town’s economy is being hit hard as a result of the dispute. They want a resolution that will be suitable for everyone involved, whether they work on the railway or use it as part of their daily lives.
Both the RMT and Southern say they remain open to further talks to find a solution.