Socialist Worker

Talks break down in Southern Rail dispute

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2517

Safety is at the centre of the strike

Safety is at the centre of the strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The RMT union suspended a strike by train guards on Southern Railway last Wednesday for talks “with no pre-conditions”.

Union reps and guards told Socialist Worker they didn’t have much hope of progress. The talks broke down on Monday.

Staff, passengers and politicians of all parties have slammed Southern’s service.

This has led to repeated calls for the Tory government to strip parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) of the franchise.

Angie Doll, GTR passenger services director, insisted “This dispute is purely about union power and control.” In reality it is about safety.

Bosses want to make trains driver-only operated (DOO), but trains without guards are less safe. Some eight of the last ten serious incidents, which have seen people trapped in a train door and dragged along, occurred on DOO trains.

But the Department for Transport (DfT) and other rail bosses wants to extend DOO.

Both are egging GTR on to crush the unions and repeat the lie about an “independent” rail safety body backing their argument.

The dispute is not over and is likely to flare up again soon.

RMT station staff have voted 70 percent for strikes against cuts to stations. And Aslef union drivers and TSSA union station staff are both balloting for strikes on GTR.

In Scotland, the RMT and Aslef unions have rejected Abellio Scotrail bosses’ proposals that drivers take responsibility for dispatching new trains being introduced on the network.

RMT train guards secured concessions over keeping their role but the crucial issue of who would dispatch the train was unresolved when the union suspended strikes.

RMT and TSSA union members on Eurostar suspended seven days of strikes between the two unions. Just one day of action took place last Friday before bosses made a new offer.

Weymouth pickets won’t be hoodwinked

Bus drivers in Weymouth began the second week of their two-week strike on Monday.

The Unite union members are fighting First Group for higher pay.

Management offered talks, but asked for a “goodwill” return to work, but only one driver had returned to work.

After eight weeks of strikes, they now have to reballot.

One striker said, “Bosses are trying to hoodwink us.”

The dispute is over last year’s pay settlement. But the settlement for this year is due this week and bosses’ 2.3 percent offer is worth just 4p an hour.

Send messages of support to Dorchester, Weymouth & Portland TUC, via [email protected]

Send cheques payable to Unite branch SW/8161 to Unite the union, 238 Holdenhurst Rd, Bournemouth BH8 8EG

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