TRAIN workers on South Western Railway will strike next month in the ongoing dispute over the role of guards.
The RMT said drivers and guards will walk out for 24 hours from 10am on Monday 9th March and again on Thursday 12th March. It follows the union voting for industrial action in January for the sixth time.
SWR said amended timetables would be in place on 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th March, with details published soon. The last strike was for 28 days, cutting services for most of December last year.
A company spokesperson said: “Our aim is to keep as many customers as possible moving, and we’re now exploring what additional services we may be able to run over and above our normal strike timetable.”
The RMT blamed SWR for failing to give a guarantee that it will not move to a driver controlled operation in which the guards lose responsibility for opening and closing doors.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it remained open for talks but accused SWR of “bullying and harassment tactics”.
He said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further two days of strike action on South Western Railway.
“They have shown an incredible amount of solidarity and voted for industrial action for an historic sixth time in one of the union’s longest running disputes.”
An SWR spokesperson claimed further talks had been planned and it was “disappointed” at the announcement.
He said: “While we have compromised on a number of points since this dispute started, SWR is the only suburban network within London with guards still operating the doors.
“We have guaranteed to keep a guard on every train, but it is vital that we use the most efficient means of dispatch when we introduce our new trains so that we can deliver the improved performance our customers so desperately need.”
As reported in the A&T, SWR is facing the threat of being nationalised over its poor performance. Transport secretary Grant Shapps has ordered it to come up with an action plan, and for civil servants to prepare for possible nationalisation.
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