Southern Claim Conductor Sickness Doubles In A Month

Wednesday 25th May 2016

eastbourne buzz news - Conductor absense

Eastbourne commuters continue to see delays and cancellations on an almost daily basis as they use the trains.

Southern claim the rate of sickness among conductors has more than doubled since strike action first started a month ago.

Around 83 services are being cancelled daily as a result of the sickness, according to the company.

Figures released by Southern claim they’ve been hit by 1066 days of conductor sickness in 32 days, with 1-in-6 conductors calling in sick in the past month.

A spokesman for the company said:

“We would not usually release such information, but passengers deserve to know the reasons behind the unusually high level of train cancellations they are presently experiencing.

“For those conductors who are ill the company is offering all the support we are able to and working out how they can get back to work. But these figures show a remarkable and unprecedented level of sickness absence which commenced at the time of the first strike. We are presently looking into what steps can be taken to investigate this deterioration in the health of conductors across the south of England.”

However, the RMT Union has hit back at these claims and has demanded to see the personal sickness, pay and perks records of the top bosses currently running Southern. 

The union said that the figures released by Southern are "pure fiction cooked up by the GTR dirty-tricks department that bare no ‎relation to what our members are reporting on the ground." 

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: 

"In my 35 years in the trade union movement I have never before come across a train company that has such a raw, and vicious hatred of its front line workforce. 

"These top bosses at French-owned GTR should release their own personal sickness, pay and perks records so that the public can judge their performance in the glare of publicity rather than these jokers taking pot shots at their safety-critical workforce anonymously from the shadows. 

"Anyone who uses Southern/GTR services knows that daily cancellations were a way of life long before the current dispute. The company have now resorted to running services deliberately short staffed so that they can knock lumps out of the workforce when they are inevitably pulled. They are a disgrace and they have chosen to go to war with their staff and passengers instead of getting on with running a safe and reliable railway." 

Now, Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has waded into the row and has released a statement:

“I fail to see how this dispute and its series of claims and counter claims is doing any good to either the RMT or Govia Thameslink.

“It’s certainly doing great harm to fed up rail passengers, some of whom had to endure up to a three-hour journey last night from London Victoria to Eastbourne amid staff shortages and cancelled trains.

“Coupled with already far from satisfactory infrastructure on our line into the town, I see nothing but a perfect storm for travellers unless this dispute is concluded. It’s time the union and the company stopped arguing and sat down and started talking.

“So much needs to be done to improve our rail services, as I have already made clear to the rail minister. I wish as much energy could be put into those improvements as has been put into this dispute even though I do share some of the union's concerns about the role of conductors on our trains.”


Picture: Chart released by Southern, showing their claim to conductor sickness since 4 April

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