The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has announced that its Southern rail guard members will now strike on Tuesday 1 August in a deepening of the long-running dispute over the role of the guard.
The 500 members will strike on the same day as other walkouts by drivers, announced by the RMT and train drivers' union Aslef, with more planned for Wednesday 2 August, and Friday 4 August. Aslef workers are also in the midst of an overtime ban.
Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said:
Neither Chris Grayling and his government, nor his contractors GTR, have lifted a finger to resolve this long running dispute despite approaches from the union and so yet again today RMT is forced to take action and send Southern rail a clear message that we will not allow them to strip the railway of a safety critical second member of staff on these vital rail services.
RMT pays tribute to our Southern rail guards and drivers who have stood firm for well over a year in the fight for rail safety despite outrageous abuse and intimidation from the company. They are a credit to their communities and to the whole trade union movement.
A spokesperson for Southern rail's parent firm Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said:
This is very disappointing, although an RMT strike will have no impact whatsoever over and above the action already being taken by Aslef drivers. The network needs to be modernised for the sake of passengers and the unions should play their part.
|Southern rail August strike dates|
|Tuesday 1 August - Aslef and RMT drivers, and guards|
|Wednesday 2 August - Aslef and RMT drivers|
|Friday 4 August - Aslef and RMT drivers|
|Ongoing overtime ban - Aslef drivers|
Meanwhile, general secretary of Aslef, today called on the transport secretary to step in regarding the row.
"It’s time for Chris Grayling to stand up and help solve this dispute, which has been haunting staff and passengers alike on Southern rail for the best part of 18 months," Mick Whelan said.
Last week, it was announced that GTR will be fined £13.4m by the Department for Transport to fund improvements, with transport secretary Chris Grayling saying industrial action on Southern rail "does not fully explain" the poor service that passengers on the network have received.
And the new raft of strike dates will heap more misery on long-suffering passengers who have dealt with over than a year of severe delays and cancellations as Southern's row with the unions goes unresolved.
The RMT has also warned that industrial action may spread to other train operators. It is engaged in disputes on Merseyrail and Northern, and has recently said that could spread to South West Trains and Greater Anglia after the union said it failed to get assurances from the train firms guaranteeing the role of the guard.