In the latest episode of the long-running dispute between the RMT and Govia Thameslink Railway, the union has advised its members to accept the new on-board supervisor role, but to proceed with strike action.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash denied there had been a climb down from the union. “Our dispute remains on and the fight for safety continues despite the bullying and threats from Southern,” he said. “We have a duty to issue our members with clear legal advice that protects their position in the teeth of the threat of mass sackings. That is what we have done.”
However, Govia Thameslink Railway CEO Charles Horton, said: “To go ahead with these strikes just days after telling conductors to accept our offer sets new standards in union militancy.”
The row is over a decision to extend driver-operated trains across the network and involves changing the role of conductors – making it the responsibility of the drivers to operate train doors. Some trains could also run without a second person on board, which the RMT has said would be unsafe.
Conductors were asked to sign up to the new roles by November 4 or risk losing their jobs in the new year. Horton said the firm was guaranteeing a job until 2021 and no loss of pay or overtime.
The union had offered to bring ACAS in towards the end of unsuccessful talks last week in a bid to bridge the gap between the two sides – it has since reiterated that offer. “The union is geared up and ready for those talks on Monday.”
As it stands, strikes are set for the following dates:
- 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