Talks to avoid Southern Rail strikes going ahead next week have failed, according to the RMT

Rebecca Smith
GTR and RMT have had last-ditch talks to avoid strikes
GTR and RMT have had last-ditch talks to avoid strikes

Talks to avoid Southern Rail strikes going ahead next week have failed, according to the RMT.

Southern Rail and union officials held talks from 10am in a bid to hash out their differences and avoid a series of strikes kicking off next week.

The strike dates announced by the RMT are:

  • 00:01 BST Tuesday 11 October to 23:59 BST Thursday 13 October
  • 00:01 BST Tuesday 18 October to 23:59 BST Thursday 20 October
  • 00:01 BST Thursday 3 November to 23:59 BST Saturday 5 November
  • 00:01 BST Tuesday 22 November to 23:59 BST Wednesday 23 November
  • 00:01 BST Tuesday 6 December to 23:59 BST Thursday 8 December

Read more: These commuters are so fed up with Southern they're taking legal action

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: "The union is angry and disappointed that a fresh set of proposals put forward by the union today that address both our issues and the company agenda have been rejected out of hand with barely a cursory glance."

He added: “There was a real chance of getting a negotiated solution on track today but Southern have not only slammed the door on that but they have also rejected RMT’s offer to draft in ACAS immediately to try and close the gap and broker a settlement. That is scandalous."

The union now awaits confirmation on what Southern plans to do next and will advise its members once the company's intentions are clear.

Charles Horton, CEO of Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: "I'm deeply disappointed that the RMT leadership have rejected our offer – their counter-proposal didn’t come anywhere near our goals of modernising our train service for the benefit of passengers."

“I am incredibly sorry about the months of misery our passengers have suffered," he added. "Our aim is to make a significant change to put services back on track and get our passengers where they want, safely and on time."

GTR said it will now press ahead with its plans to modernise services. It has been embroiled in disputes with the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union over proposed changes to the role of conductors and had set a deadline of today for acceptance of its proposals.

Govia had said if the deal wasn't accepted by midday today it would go ahead with changes, but the decision that the strikes would go ahead wasn't announced until gone 1pm.

Cash had told Govia the union was rejecting the company's final offer but would still attend talks.

Earlier in the week Southern faced a backlash over its campaign encouraging Twitter users to tell the RMT how strikes affected them using the hashtag #SouthernBackOnTrack.

An email from bosses was then leaked instructing managers to destroy all campaign posters because of "the extremely negative public sentiment".

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