Southern reportedly scraps ‘Strike Back’ campaign after public and union pressure

Southern strikes are set to go ahead next week
Southern strikes are set to go ahead next week

A rail union says that Southern has now withdrawn its unpopular ‘Strike Back’ campaign.

According to the RMT, Southern is now believed to have scrapped the campaign after a negative public backlash and its “incitement to violence against staff”.

The campaign by the rail company included newspaper advertisements and social media posts which said, “The RMT won’t listen to us. But they may listen to you. Time to get back on track. Tweet @RMTunion & tell them how rail strikes make you feel.”

The RMT have a screenshot which appears to show an email saying that Southern will now cancel the campaign due to “negative public sentiment”, and instructing managers to remove and destroy the posters.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “This is a despicable and nasty campaign designed by Southern to set their workforce up for abuse and assault. It is incitement pure and simple and we are now seeing the consequences.

“Encouraging abuse of staff who are doing nothing other than standing up for passenger safety is a measure of this basket case outfit running Britain’s biggest rail franchise.

“We see today new advertisements in the newspapers regardless of the massive cost involved. It is estimated the campaign budget is around half a million pounds, money that could have been spent on keeping the guards and resolving the dispute.”

The dispute between Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern, and the RMT is over its plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors.

Southern has told the RMT it will press ahead with changes to the role of conductors if the union does not reach agreement by noon on Thursday (October 6). It will “regretfully proceed” without the RMT’S involvement and serve letters to conductors terminating their contracts and transfer them to the new on-board role.

Southern made a final offer, including a payment of £2,000, to all conductors once the dispute is settled.

The offer, which might be withdrawn after Thursday’s deadline, was described as a bribe by the RMT.

The union is planning 14 days of strikes over the coming months, starting with a three-day walkout next week.

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