TRAIN workers will go on strike for 27 days during December in a major escalation of the industrial dispute on the South Western Railway network.
The RMT union announced it plans to walk out either side of Christmas in the row with the train company over the future of train guards.
As reported in the A&T, the dispute on the franchise, which includes the line through the New Forest and the Lymington branchline, has been ongoing since 2017.
RMT member guards, commercial guards and drivers will walk out from:
- Monday 2nd December until Wednesday 11th December
- Friday 13th December until Tuesday 24th December
- Friday 27th December until Wednesday 1st January
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.
“At the last meeting we held with SWR principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again.
“As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard we will remain in dispute.
“I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR. It is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been agreed.”
He added: “The union remains available for talks.”
Previous strikes have seen services reduced by up to 50%. A South Western Railway spokesperson said it would do “everything we can” to keep customers moving during the strike action.
The company has introduced 80 extra guard roles since 2017, he claimed, and was “extremely disappointed” by the RMT’s actions which showed a “lack of concern” for customers by targeting services over Christmas.
He said: “The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train. That is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement if the RMT work with us to agree a method of operation for our new trains which fully utilises the new technology to improve safety, security and accessibility as well as day-to-day performance.
“Instead the RMT appear purely focussed on keeping control of train doors in a misguided attempt to hold power over the industry.”
He added: “We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone. “