Union suspends two-day strike for talks with South Western Railway

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South Western Railway
RMT members had been due to walk out on Monday 9th March and Thursday 12th March

TWO days of strikes due next week on the South Western Railway network have been suspended by the RMT union for renewed talks.

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The industrial action had been scheduled for 24 hours from 10am on both Monday 9th March and Thursday 12th March.

But the RMT said in a statement yesterday (Tuesday) it was suspending the strike “in good faith to allow further talks to take place this Friday 6th March”.

It added: “South Western Railway guard, commercial guard and train driver members are now instructed to work as usual on the above dates.”

SWR had scheduled four days of revised timetables to cope with the fallout from the strike but these are now planned to return to normal.

The operator said on Twitter: “We’re pleased for our customers and colleagues that next week’s strikes have been suspended. We hope that we can now find a solution to bring a permanent end to this dispute.”

It added: “We’re working hard to reinstate the full timetable for next week.”

The dispute, which has been running since 2017, is about the future role of guards, including whether it is them or drivers who operate the doors at stations.

The RMT says its members have a “safety critical” job on the rails but SWR argues that the working system needs updating to deliver a more efficient and punctual service.

As reported in the A&T, the last strike was for 28 days and disrupted services for most of December. SWR is also facing the threat of nationalisation by the government due to its poor performance.

Last week Mark Hopwood, who took over as SWR’s managing director in January, said things were improving.

He pointed to the number of trains arriving at their final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time increasing from 74.3% in the week beginning 12th January to 79.1% in the week beginning 17th February.

He added: “Whilst this inevitably varies week to week, I am pleased that most weeks are seeing a gradual and consistent improvement.”

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