More RMT strikes on SWR as talks break down

Guards who choose to work during industrial action on South Western Railway are still being bullied and harassed, according to a source.

However, the RMT union also claims its striking members are being treated in an unacceptable way.

An indefinite ban on overtime and rest day working among guards at the Bournemouth and Weymouth depots started on July 17 (RAIL 857). The union said the action was in response to “the victimisation of members during recent industrial action”.

SWR said services continued to operate and that passengers would not notice.

The union has also announced eight days of wider strike action by guards on July 26/28/31, August 4/11/18/31, and September 1. That includes five Saturdays across the summer holiday period.

“Around a dozen guards at Bournemouth and Weymouth came to work on the last strike, and are still subject to bullying,” the source told RAIL.

“The action taken in striking is nothing less than political. I attended an RMT meeting where the union president stood up and said that if the RMT could get all five TOCs that serve London to strike on the same day, it would go a long way to achieving the aim of a Corbyn government.”

A closed Facebook group for RMT members at Bournemouth and Weymouth claims to have “written proof” that the company wishes to extend Driver Only Operation.

In a post confirming the latest round of strike action, the guards stated: “The company have now made it clear that it’s not just DOO on new rolling stock, but old rolling stock too, if they modify it. So, if you are an outer Guard and believed you were safe, think again.”

The post added: “I know eight days is a big ask and going to have a big financial impact on everyone, and the National Executive Committee will debate a hardship payment to all members who take this action. It needed to be a big impact on the company so they get back around the table.”

A spokesman for SWR confirmed that all non-suburban rolling stock would continue to require a guard on board.

“The discussions we have had about keeping our passengers moving when a guard is unavailable at short notice relate only to the new suburban fleet,” he said.

“We continue to offer assurances that on this fleet we will also continue to roster a second person on every train.”

The spokesman confirmed there were no plans to alter Class 444, ‘450’, ‘442’ or ‘158/9’ fleets to make them capable of operation without a guard. Currently none of the rolling stock serving Bournemouth and Weymouth is fitted with driver-controlled operation of the doors.

SWR has been running inclusivity workshops for drivers, guards and station staff in the Bournemouth, Weymouth and Salisbury areas. The company describes feedback as “both positive and helpful”.

  • To read the FULL story, read RAIL 858, published on August 1, and available digitally on Android/iPad from July 28

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  • Chris Chitty - 03/08/2018 17:32

    I feel that there should usually be more than one rail-safety trained person on all trains, imagine a derailment with the driver incapacitated, who is left to apply emergency protection? Also, what about disabled passengers boarding and alighting?

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    • phil hopes - 08/09/2018 14:14

      swr statement is to keep guardsss or another person so why does RMT say opposite ie who is llying?

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