More disruption could hit Eastbourne commuters today (13 March).
Conductors with the RMT Union are staging their thirtieth day of strike action, in the ongoing row with Southern over their future on trains, owing to the introduction of driver-only operations. The RMT feels the move to have on board supervisors will jeopardise passenger safety, as they are not safety critical trained, like conductors are. However, Southern say the move is safe and is simply modernising the system, allowing supervisors to spend more time on customer service.
Southern say they plan to run most services during the industrial action today, saying during the last RMT strike on 22 February, they ran almost nine out of ten trains, with more than 50% of on board staff reporting for work and the use of contingency on board staff.
Passenger Services Director Angie Doll said, “We've shown that we can now run almost all our services during an RMT strike. Our on-board supervisors are now established in their roles and passengers are beginning to see the benefits of having someone whose sole job is customer service.”
However, the RMT has disputed this, saying the figures are not borne out by the passenger feedback on strike days on the impact of the RMT’s continuing campaign.
General Secretary Mick Cash saying, “Instead of spinning fantasies about the continuing impact of the guards’ action on Southern Rail the company should be round the table with the union looking for a solution that protects safe operation and which underpins the guard guarantee on the Southern services.
“RMT repeats again today the call for genuine and serious talks that cut through the barrage of spin and hype from the company and which set for a framework for a safe and sustainable solution to Britain’s longest-running industrial dispute.”
Just three weeks ago, on 20 February, Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce held a protest outside Eastbourne Railway Station against the dispute and called for all sides, including the RMT, ASLEF, Southern and the Government to find a suitable solution, saying the dispute is having a negative impact on businesses in the town. Eastbourne Buzz has approached the Chamber for a comment towards this latest strike action, but so far, we have not received a response.