BREAKING NEWS: Southern staff to strike again

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Southern staff will hold yet another strike as a trade union dispute enters its second year.

Since last April the RMT union has organised walkouts in response to Govia Thameslink Railway’s proposals to introduce driver-only operation on Southern trains.

As part of the changes drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors, while conductors are transferred to the role of on-board supervisors.

The union has raised safety concerns about the potential loss of a second safety-critical member of staff on services.

The latest 24-hour strike will be held on Tuesday May 30.

It claims 8,216 trains a year will run without an on-board supervisor, which the RMT argues will mean safety for the travelling public and access for people with disabilities will be ‘severely compromised’.

But according to the rail operator although an on-board supervisor is assigned to each train, on occasions where this is not possible GTR would rather run a service than cancel it.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “RMT members on Southern Rail have been fighting for safety and access to rail services for over a year now.

“We have met with the company but there is a massive gap of over 8,000 trains a year that GTR have confirmed will run without an OBS on board.

“That represents a serious safety and accessibility risk and short of the guarantee of a second safety qualified member of staff on Southern services we have no option but to confirm a further day of strike action.

“It is now down to Southern/GTR, and the contract holders in the Government, to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”

In response Andy Bindon, HR director at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We are hugely disappointed that once again the RMT has called a strike, particularly since we put a further reasonable offer to the union today.

“The RMT’s proposals would mean cancelling trains and reducing service levels to our passengers.

“Our service levels are stabilising at the highest we’ve seen in years and we cannot agree to anything which will jeopardise running trains and the service to our passengers.

“With passenger numbers doubling every 20 years, railway capacity is being addressed by a UK-wide railway modernisation programme that necessitates change.

“We ask the RMT to help us to underpin and maximise train frequency and capacity now and for the future.”

Southern ran 95 per cent of services during the last RMT walkout in early April.

The next strike would be the RMT’s 32nd day of strike action.

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