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Southern to face legal action by RMT over decision to withhold holiday pay

Southern is likely to face legal action over its decision to withhold holiday pay from workers involved in its dispute with RMT over its proposals to expand driver-only operated (DOO) services.

RMT has told the company that it has received legal advice which stated that withholding backdated holiday pay is against the law, with the union’s general secretary Mick Cash confirming that there may be a case for Southern to answer.

The dispute has seen a long campaign of industrial action taken by RMT with its next series of strikes due to take place on 22-23 November. There are also strikes planned over the festive period before Christmas and over New Year, leading to criticisms that the RMT is attempting to ‘cancel Christmas’.

A Southern spokesman defended the company’s decision to withhold pay, saying: “These strikes have caused misery and hardship to people’s work and family lives. We feel we cannot make these payments to conductors who are currently taking industrial action.”

“The fact they have taken strike action makes the calculation of what is owed more complicated. We plan to pay them once the industrial action is over.”

RMT argues that Southern’s DOO operating system, where only the driver has the ability to open the train’s doors, would threaten the jobs of train conductors and passenger safety.

Despite this Southern has pushed ahead in implementing DOO as planned, saying it has been found to be safe by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and that no jobs will be lost.

Attempts to end the dispute failed back in October when RMT rejected Southern’s eight-point plan offer which included a promise to have a second staff member on as many trains as possible.

(Image: RMT. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

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Jerry Alderson   11/11/2016 at 18:00

@RTM - you seem to be confused over the door operation. Drivers on Southern already open the doors and have been doing so for a decade or more. The change is that in future the drivers will also close the doors. I do wish you would stop referrng to DOO. It is DCO that is being introduced. DOO = one member of staff on board (with RPIs boarding some trains as and when needed to deter evasion). DCO = DOO+1 = two members of staff on board all (*) trains. In both cases the driver does 100% of the operational role. (*) = the dispute is about the exceptional occurrences when the train will go with just a driver (even though the second person will always be rostered). The elephant in the room is that one of those few special cases will be when the RMT on-board supervisor is on strike.

Stuart   13/11/2016 at 19:44

It is truly shocking and a slap in the face to the Southern passengers who have faced so much hardship due to RMT's past strikes, and who will suffer over the holidays should the planned strikes take place. It is sad that so many people, including the RMT's rank-and-file membership, must suffer because the Union management continues to act like petulant children.

Manek Dubash   14/11/2016 at 10:28

Stuart, I think you will find that the management took the first action when they decided (in cahoots with the government, who are the real movers and shakers behind this) to change the terms and conditions of the guards. RMT has a real safety case for its actions - check out the RAIB's site for the number of platform-train interface incidents and fatalities resulting from DOO, especially on unstaffed stations.

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