Railway safety and crime

19.02.19

South Western Railway strikes suspended after ‘significant breakthrough’ in guard dispute

Strike action by workers on the South Western Railway (SWR) have been suspended after a “significant breakthrough” was made in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

RMT members were due to walk out this Friday and again throughout March but the union said it had made substantial progress in talks with SWR and had elected to suspend the ongoing programme of strikes.

This follows the suspension of strike action on Northern Rail after the company agreed to guarantee there would be a conductor on all trains, bringing to an end 47 separate days of strikes.

The RMT said: “Through the talks process the company has now offered a guarantee of a guard on the South Western Railway services that have been in dispute.”

It stated that SWR had confirmed to the union that all rolling stock will be subject to a safety risk assessment on a station by station basis by a guard with safety critical competencies which will be agreed by the RMT and train operator.

SWR has also agreed that the introduction of any new or modified stock will also operate with a guard.

RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash paid tribute to the determination of its guards and drivers on the campaign and also thanked the public.

Cash commented: “Firstly, we need to recognise that the breakthrough on the guard guarantee that has been secured today from South Western Railway has only been achieved through nearly two years of action and campaigning by RMT members on the principle of a safe and accessible railway for all.

“Today’s offer of a guarantee of a guard on the SWR services in dispute is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT’s executive to take the decision to suspend the current action to allow further talks to take place with the objective of reaching a final, agreed settlement.”

Industrial action by RMT members started over two years ago and has featured union heads clashing with the RSSB over the importance of a second guard to passenger safety.

Northern’s guarantee has been backed by the DfT and TfN, and the decision to suspend the strikes on the South Western Railway brings an end to the bitter dispute.

 Image credit -  Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

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