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RMT should put ‘fair and comprehensive’ offer to members, says Southern

Southern has urged the RMT to re-enter talks or offer its members a vote on the train company’s offer after the union announced another two-day strike.

RMT announced on Tuesday that it will strike on 7 and 8 September after Southern said it will proceed in expanding its use of driver-operated only (DOO) services, where the train’s conductor cannot open its doors. RTM has asked about the specifics of how this is being implemented, but at the time of publication had received no reply.

The union has repeatedly warned the proposals will lead to job cuts and put passenger safety at risk, despite DOO being recently rated safe by the Rail Safety and Standards Branch.

Alex Foulds, passenger services director at Southern, said: “We’ve had a summer of travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of people and they are now proposing yet more misery and disruption in the week when people go back to work and back to school.

“This futile dispute is not about safety and no-one is losing their jobs or taking a pay cut. The fact is we are creating good jobs – jobs that attracted over 850 enquiries within 24 hours of being advertised, with good terms and conditions. We’ve made a fair and comprehensive offer and perhaps it’s an offer that the RMT should put to their members to consider.”

Southern’s most recent offer to RMT includes a commitment to have a second member of staff on as many trains as possible.

RMT has held three previous strikes, contributing to unprecedented disruptions on the network which have forced Southern to cancel 341 services a day to try to regain control of its timetable.

It is also planning separate strikes across Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), in protest at closures of ticket offices.

Foulds said Southern’s “door remains open” to resume talks with RMT, either directly or at brokerage service Acas.

However, Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said that while RMT was “committed to serious and genuine talks”, Southern had “undermined” the talks by introducing DOO and insisting on pre-conditions for negotiation.

“We would call on the company to row back, get back round the table and allow talks to take place without preconditions and without the immediate threat to the safety critical role hanging over our members’ heads,” he said.

UPDATE 4.15pm

RMT has announced it will hold the 24-hour strike by GTR station staff on 7 September, to coincide with the existing strike.

Cash said: “These cuts plans fly in the face of the response from the thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations as Govia drives on with plans for a “faceless railway” where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.

 “It is about time Govia Thameslink started acting responsibly, halted their cuts plans and got round the table with the union in serious and genuine talks.”

(Image c. Jonathan Brady)

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Neil Palmer   25/08/2016 at 12:46

Time to back down Mick and put GTR's offer to a vote amongst your members, before the offer is withdrawn and DOO goes ahead WITHOUT an RMT member on board as second staff member. You have absolutely NO public sympathy with your false "safety" claim.

Martin T   25/08/2016 at 15:33

The RMT has lost. GTR has been operating with on-board supervisors for five days now (since Sunday). Its ability to bring the service to a halt through stirke action is gone. There is no way that the government will backtrack. RMT needs to get around the table and agree the list of scenarios where a train will operate with just the driver (e.g. because the rostered guard failed to turn up to work on time perhaps because of a problem on the roads). RMT should also look at how the on-board supervisors can upskill themselves. For exmaple, the staff could go to evening classes to learn a foreign language. It's a good career move to do in any industry.

Jerry Alderson   25/08/2016 at 17:54

For information (I haven't seen this listed on RTM anywhere) the following is the list of things that GTR has offered the RMT taken from a communication to stakeholders such as RUGs, Railfuture etc. on 8th August. Readers can make up their own minds on how reasonable, generous, or whatever, the above are.

Jerry Alderson (Fix Typo On Previous)   25/08/2016 at 17:57

Oops. the web-site rejected all of the text pasted in becuase I wrapped it in carets as delimiters. Trying again... GTR offered the following new assurances, which the RMT rejected: 1. Collective bargaining rights for the new OBS role, ensuring that this group will have a voice within the organisation as well as full negotiation rights 2. A joint review of the OBS role after 12 months of operation, to look at role development, training and future career development 3. A guaranteed minimum level of voluntary overtime for all OBSs, the detail of which would be agreed with the RMT 4. A guarantee to retain the OBS role at the levels already guaranteed, beyond 2021, should GTR retain the franchise 5. Southern guarantee 2nd member of staff rostered to those trains that have them today 6. Conductors and OBS to retain safety competence including PTS and evacuation training, including non-dispatch route knowledge 7. Southern and RMT to agree a list of circumstances whereby a train would continue in service without a 2nd member of traincrew on board, in the interests of the customers 8. RMT to accept transfer of door-operation to the driver This is on top of the commitments GTR has already made to the RMT, which include: • No compulsory redundancies • No reduction in salary • No compulsory location moves • A guaranteed, above-inflation pay-rise for the next two years • An increase in the existing ‘shift premia’ (which is additional salary paid to staff for working voluntary overtime) to 20% over the next three years • A promise to increase the number of back-up staff to help manage unplanned disruption – thereby ensuring the railway is staffed more in the future than it is today Readers can make up their own minds on how reasonable, generous, or whatever, the above are.

Neil Palmer   25/08/2016 at 22:57

Maybe Mickey is

Neil Palmer   25/08/2016 at 23:39

Sorry, trouble updating from mobile. Maybe Mick is afraid the offer is TOO generous. No wonder he's afraid to put the offer to a vote by his members. You'd have to be a fool to reject that, then Mick's political agenda would have no support.

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