Talks offer gives hope of early end to South Western Railway strike

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South Western railway strikes
The RMT published what it called a six-point “road map to a settlement” (Photo: stock image)

HOPES have been raised for talks that could bring an end to strikes set to disrupt services on South Western Railway until the end of the month.

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The RMT has offered the company what it called a six-point “road map to a settlement” as a basis for getting back around table.

Union members are currently into the second week of a 28-day strike scheduled to continue in phases until 1st January. The dispute, which SWR said had stopped less than half its services, is over the future of train guards.

Yesterday (Monday) the RMT published a plan which it wanted to put to renewed talks with SWR, under reconciliation service ACAS.

The union said a key part of the plan was for SWR to agree a few extra seconds for trains stopping at stations “in the interests of safety and accessibility”.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “As our members stand solid and united with this phase of SWR strike action entering its second week, we are literally three seconds away from a deal that would achieve both our objectives, and the companies and I would appeal to SWR to get out of their bunker and back into ACAS with the union to bolt down a settlement.

“A negotiated solution to this dispute, which would cost the company nothing and meet RMT’s objectives of protecting safety and accessibility, is within grasp. I would urge SWR to seize this opportunity.”

Other conditions include an “active safety critical guard” on every passenger train in service, keeping their active role in dispatching trains, plus SWR guaranteeing the role of the guard until the end of the franchise in 2024.

A spokesperson for South Western Railway welcomed the RMT’s announcement but told the A&T it had yet to receive the document directly to analyse it for new proposals.

He said: “We actually agree with most of the RMT’s points, but on a busy metro network like ours every second counts and we cannot have unnecessary and inefficient practices that increase delays for passengers.

“The best and safest way to operate the new trains we will introduce next year is with the driver closing the doors, as the industry’s own safety body, the Rail Safety and Standards Board has said.

“Only by doing this can we free up guards to offer the customer assistance the RMT describes, making our trains more accessible, and providing better customer service to everyone.”

RMT member guards, commercial guards and drivers are striking from:

  • Monday 2nd December until Wednesday 11th December
  • Friday 13th December until Tuesday 24th December
  • Friday 27th December until Wednesday 1st January

For travel information during the strikes, go to www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/rmt-industrial-action.

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