Latest Rail News


RMT accused of ‘cancelling Christmas’ with new December strikes on Southern

A new set of strikes by the RMT are due to hit Southern passengers over Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, it was announced today.

The two 48-hr strikes will take place from midnight on 22 December to 23.59 on 24 December, and from the same time between 31 December and 2 January.

They mark the latest industrial action in a bitter dispute over Southern’s plans to expand driver-only operated services, which the RMT claim will threaten jobs and passenger safety.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, 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.”

He added that the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, should “get out of his bunker” and join in negotiations, saying the government was “the only obstacle” to removing Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) from the Southern contract.

RMT has already carried out a 14-day programme of strikes, with the latest due to take place on 4 and 5 November, followed by further strikes on 22-23 November and 6-8 December.

A Southern spokesperson 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 This has never been about safety; it’s purely about the RMT hanging on to outdated working practices and union power.”

Southern passengers have suffered a series of severe disruptions this year due to the strikes, staff shortages, engineering works at London Bridge, and other factors. A recent Transport Select Committee report sharply criticised GTR, RMT and the DfT for contributing to the problems on the franchise.

In particular, it said it had been a mistake to amalgamate Southern with other GTR franchises at a time when the network was undergoing disruption because of the Thameslink programme.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.



James Palma   03/11/2016 at 19:26

It never fails to amaze me how like sheep people are. The conductors are losing money. They potentially risk losing their jobs. And they may even lose a lump sum payment of £2000. Because of safety risks to passengers? I doubt it. If there was an incident the conductor would not be at fault. I also suggest most just want to get paid for doing a job. And perhaps many just dont want to leave their back cab and have to socialise with passengers. So why do they do what the union tells them? Are they really incapable of thinking for themselves? If so, i dont want my 'safety' in their hands.

Ian Kean   04/11/2016 at 03:28

James Palma. The RMT doesn't tell its members what to do. The members tell the Union what THEY want it to do. How else do you think they got the mandate to call the strikes in the first place?

Alex Soares   04/11/2016 at 08:44

My simpathy towards any employee of Southern train participating in this outrageous action is gone. I'm a retail worker and work long hours during the holiday season to ensure people would have the best of the times. I will suffer and struggle to cummute to and from work because of this action and I know many more people on the same situation. Shame on you. I wish you a miserable Christmas too.

Gabriel Oaks   04/11/2016 at 11:11

The RMT is bringing the railway industry into disrepute. This issue cannot be about safety; if it was the Office of Rail Regulation would have stepped in and the RSSB would not be supporting Driver Only Operation. Certainly GTR's Southern Metro & Thameslink operate Driver Only trains without issue (as does LUL, LOROL, SET, C2C - the list goes on.....) With GTR stating their staff will not lose money the only reasonable conclusion must be the RMT is calling these strikes in a vain attempt to protect union membership particularly when next year's SWT management franchise is likely to introduce further driver-only operation.

John Grant   04/11/2016 at 12:06

Not forgetting GN (also part of GTR) which is truly "driver-only", having no second crew member at all.

James Palma   05/11/2016 at 17:58

Hello Ian, thank you for your thoughts. However, i am afraid the members of the union do not tell the union reps what to do. The reps and the union have a political and economic agenda. To keep their power, they, as do management of any organisation, manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of their members. This is demonstrated by the unions themselves in their notices to their members, many of which are available on line. For example members may be 'instructed' to go on strike. Who is the union to instruct me to do anything? That is management talk for 'this will not be argued with'. I have had to issue such instructions at work myself, as a manager, and have had many dealings with unions and their reps. Many good and objective some very subjective and bad where the rep/union has been trying to make a political point manipulating its members and yes facts and the truth. Additionally how often are members told the truth by their reps/union or even management? Or should i say the truth directly rather than it being hidden within inciting comments to manipulate people to vote for what the union actually wants, which is to keep and maintain control. Just some thoughts, but i strongly suggest everybody should read and listen very carefully to what is being written or said and question what the agenda is. Hence my observation of sheep.

John   19/11/2016 at 21:38

MRS CLARA TECH of the WORLD, its OUT again! Cool way to have financial freedom!!! Are you tired of living a poor life,then here is the opportunity you have been waiting for. Get the new ATM BLANK CARD that can hack any ATM MACHINE and withdraw money from any account. You do not require anybody's account number before you can use it. Although you and I knows that its illegal,there is no risk using it. It has SPECIAL FEATURES, that makes the machine unable to detect this very card,and its transaction is can't be traced . You can use it anywhere in the world. With this card,you can withdraw nothing less than $5000 daily. So to get the card,reach the hackers via email address : you can contact them through their email address; [email protected]

Steve   14/12/2016 at 20:04

No wonder the government is looking at ways to allow Southern Rail to sack strikers. After the fiasco this week where the RMT started the strike a day early and made Victoria station so dangerous I'm surprised no one was injured - And yet no union member was to be seen. Just the poor staff struggling to prevent a riot. I feel sorry for those guys, trying to help passengers. I will certainly switch and support the government if they choose to sack the strikers, No one should ever be held for ransom. Its obvious this is nothing to do with safety as the Unions seem to be causing a dangerous situation.

Add your comment

Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

Most Read

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >