Tuesday 19 November 2019 5:18 pm

Talks continue between RMT and South Western Railway over December strikes

Crunch negotiations between RMT union and South Western Railway took place today, in a bid to avert 27 days of strikes over the Christmas period.

Union bosses and the rail franchise are still clashing over a dispute involving the role of guards on trains.

Drivers and guards will strike from 2 December until the New Year, only stopping for a brief period around the General Election on 12 December and for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when trains do not run anyway.

Downing Street has called the action “unacceptable”.

Negotiations are taking place under the watchful eye of Acas, the conciliation service, in a bid to find an agreement.

The union says every train needs a guard as well as a driver, but South Western has refused to give it the assurances it wants that this will be the case in the coming years.

RMT says the guard is important to help disabled people onto trains and to help keep passengers safe.

However, South Western has said RMT is making a “misguided attempt to hold power over the industry”.

Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “We enter into these talks in good faith as always, and the trade union will not be providing a running commentary.”