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‘Saga of strike misery’ to continue as RMT plans 23 January action on Southern

The RMT has announced that guards on Southern will hold another 24-hour strike on 23 January as the union’s dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) presses on.

The action marks the latest development in the long-running row over Southern’s proposed introduction of driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

Aslef and RMT drivers are set to walk out again on Friday and again on 24, 25 and 27 January, in a move which will lead to the cancellation of Southern’s 2,242 weekday services.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that the further strike marked part of the union’s “ongoing fight” for safety on trains, as he criticised GTR’s CEO Charles Horton for “melting away” a promise to retain a second member of staff on the company’s services.

Horton allegedly made the comments in a recent BBC debate after which he was believed to have spoken with RMT’s assistant general secretary Mick Lynch about arranging further talks to end the dispute.

“It is down to the company to end this posturing and to get back into the room with us to kick-start the negotiating process, which is what the public are clearly crying out for,” Cash said.

“RMT is available but it is down to Southern/GTR to show that same commitment and to stick to the promises they gave on camera in front of TV audience across the region.”

The union’s announcement came as it seeks separate reassurances from Northern Rail and Merseyrail regarding those companies’ use of DOO, threatening action if they do not respond by 26 January.

A Southern spokesperson confirmed that Horton had spoken with Lynch regarding further talks but RMT had not yet responded with a date or time, calling the union “disingenuous” in its motivations.

“It’s important we focus now on moving forward to end this sorry saga of strike misery.  This wholly unjustified industrial action is causing utter misery and hardship to the travelling public and is having a significant impact on people’s work and family lives and the regional economy,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain ready to meet the RMT leadership, as we do ASLEF, anytime, any place, anywhere to find a way to end their disputes.”

Earlier today, GTR revealed it will now go to the Supreme Court to try to block Aslef's planned action for later this month, despite losing cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal last year.

(Image c. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

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Martin T   13/01/2017 at 14:54

I fear that this strike has now turned into a last-ditched attempt to save Mick Cash's head with union members acting as his private army. Bob Crow knew how far to push things. He never lost face because he only demanded what he knew what was possible to achieve. he didn't always win but on those occasions it was low profile. Mick Cash doesn't have Bob Crow's experience. Cash has boxed himself into a corner demanding that 100% of Southern passenger-carrying trains have an RMT member on board 100% of the time. There is no room to maneouvre, so compromise is not possible and nothing the government offers short of that is acceptable. The strike has become the most high-profile, longest and biggest for 25 years. Unless the government totally capitulates then Mick Cash has completely lost face and will be toast. It remains to be seen whether Mick Whelan of ASLEF knows how far to push things. If his stance is that ASLEF will accept the OBS role if certain technical deficiencies are overcome then he will be seen as reasonable and will have wriggle room. But if Mick Whelan throws everything at trying to save Mick Cash's head then I despair for the passengers.

Billd   13/01/2017 at 15:04

The RMT are putting themselves in the position of Safety Regulator. This is something that they are most definitely not. If the Safety Regulator is content with DOO arrangements then the RMT union should be talking with the Regulator and trying to change its stance - not disrupting the lawful business of the TOC and severely inconveniencing customers. A risk assessment has, no doubt, been carried out and the residual risk found to be acceptable. The current industrial action smacks of the Luddites of old rather than the protection of union members If this continues, they will lose the TOC's customers and thus reduce their members' positions.

GW   14/01/2017 at 00:14

Poor reporting AGAIN. It is DCO not DOO. Get it right please.

Matt Dillion   16/01/2017 at 06:34

"Billd - The RMT are putting themselves in the position of Safety Regulator". Whilst at the same time trying to become a political body...

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