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RMT Southern strike will go ahead on Saturday as talks break down again

Talks between Southern and RMT broke down yet again yesterday, confirming the news that the union will walk out on Saturday.

The strike marks the 31st time that RMT has walked out since the dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains started over a year ago.

Southern said that a “comprehensive service” is expected on Saturday, especially after it was able to run nine out of 10 of its regular services the last time RMT drivers and guards launched industrial action on 13 March.

RMT leader Mick Cash told his members: “Regrettably there have been no specific proposals from Southern to justify suspending the industrial action.

“I have informed Southern that we are available at any time for further meaningful talks to resolve this very difficult dispute.

“In the meantime, I urge you to continue your outstanding support and solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder with your colleagues during the industrial action.”

Southern is not the only operator facing RMT action on Saturday. Northern and Merseyrail services are likely to be hit even harder as the strike action coincides with one of the busiest days of the year for the rail network – the Grand National at Aintree.

Northern announced that it would be running around a third of its regular service, whilst Merseyrail stated that it would be focusing its efforts on moving punters to and from the race course, meaning services besides these would be heavily affected.

This week, fellow union Aslef’s members also voted to reject a deal with Southern by a slim margin of 26 votes, opening the door for further strike action to go ahead. 

Following the ORR’s publication of new safety guidelines for driver-controlled operation (DCO) trains yesterday, RMT has now demanded that the regulator clarify guidelines for DOO trains in a bid to force operators to drop the changes over passenger safety concerns – despite the fact that it has already concluded that DOO wouldn’t affect commuters.

But Cash argued: “It is well established that once the guarantee of a guard is withdrawn then disabled passengers are disadvantaged because they can no longer be assured of being able to turn up and get on or off the train at unstaffed stations.”

He accused the ORR of having “no idea” of the impact of driver-only trains on disabled passengers, adding that the regulator should not have given the green light to DCO services.

“At best they have been asleep on the job but more likely they are in cahoots with rail companies and in doing so are rolling back the rights of disabled passengers,” he said. “This is a sickening way to treat rail disabled passengers and we are calling for a full inquiry into the ORR’s actions and a halt to the introduction of DOO services.”

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Tothehills   06/04/2017 at 14:09

I heard the RMT union has condoned Jockey Only Operation of horses at this year's the Grand National and that in future all horses should have a second member of on-board staff trained to operate the whip.

Andrew Gwilt   06/04/2017 at 21:10

Southern Trains (managed by Govia/Go-Ahead) should be stripped if they keep on allowing to introduce more strikes. I think its out of order. Strip Southern from GTR and let them operate as a open access franchise instead run by the DfT and the government.

Jason   07/04/2017 at 08:31

How can Mick Cash criticise the new ORR publication? It was done with consultation with all the unions (as with ANY change in the principle operation of the railway) or did the RMT not bother sending any Reps to the consultation meetings?

James Palma   07/04/2017 at 19:19

I wonder if Mick Cash forfeits his salary for every day he encourages his members to strike?? No, I didn't think so either. Not quite standing shoulder to shoulder is it, especially on his 6 figure salary.

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