Southern Railway conductors in the RMT union held their latest strike on May 18, as the dispute continues over extension of Driver Only Operation (DOO) and changes to their roles. The action had been brought forward from May 20.
The RMT claims to have support from the public, and described the walkout as “solid and determined”. However, Southern accused the RMT of a “refusal to negotiate”, claiming that it has met with the union eight times and written repeatedly to discuss changes to the conductors’ role. The operator also described the change of date as a “cynical ploy to maximise the disruption their action will have on passengers by moving the strike… from Friday, when fewer people traditionally travel, to midweek.”
Govia Thameslink Railway Chief Operating Officer Dyan Crowther said: “Despite repeated efforts over six months, the RMT union seems unwilling to talk properly about this. Our door remains open to talks, but they seem determined to inflict another day of misery on Southern commuters. It’s time for them to come back to the negotiating table, and talk sensibly about these changes.
“The only thing that changes is the new conductors will no longer close the doors - a task that passes to the driver with the aid of CCTV. This will cost no one their jobs, and frees up staff on board trains to better serve passengers.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash responded: “With commuters paying thousands of pounds a year for their annual tickets on Southern, there can be no explanation for the removal of the guards other than a central obsession in the boardroom for putting increased profits above public safety. That message is ringing out loud and clear as the dispute continues.”
- The RMT union is balloting ScotRail guards over industrial action about the possibility of the operator extending Driver Only Operation. The union says ScotRail has not made assurances that DOO will not be extended. The ballot was due to open on May 24 and closes on June 7.