More RMT strikes on South West­ern Rail­way as talks break down…

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

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 the ac­tion was hav­ing no im­pact on pas­sen­gers.

The union has also an­nounced eight days of wider strike ac­tion by guards on July 26/28/31 (af­ter this is­sue of RAIL went to press), Au­gust 4/11/18/31, and Septem­ber 1. That in­cludes five Satur­days across the sum­mer hol­i­day pe­riod. The last strike was more than six months ago, on Jan­uary 12.

SWR aimed to run at least 60% of ser­vices, with more trains at max­i­mum length. A spokesman said: “The pro­posal we made is sim­i­lar to that of Greater Anglia, which the RMT has re­cently agreed to. We have said that we will keep a guard on all our ser­vices.”

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

“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 [train oper­at­ing com­pa­nies] 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”.

Two mem­bers of the RMT union based at Bournemouth were sus­pended by the com­pany fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing of guards who chose to work dur­ing strikes ( RAIL 857).

The union said both mem­bers were sub­se­quently sacked. RMT Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Mick Cash al­leged that “the dis­ci­plinary process has been abused and the ex­treme pun­ish­ments car­ried out are to­tally dis­pro­por­tion­ate. The only fair con­clu­sion to this dis­pute is the im­me­di­ate re­in­state­ment of our col­leagues to their sub­stan­tive roles with­out de­lay.”

SWR re­sponded that the dis­ci­plinary process did not re­late to in­dus­trial ac­tion, but to breaches of the com­pany’s ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing poli­cies.

Sep­a­rately, con­fi­den­tial min­utes from dis­cus­sions at the ACAS con­cil­i­a­tion ser­vice have been leaked to RAIL. Talks broke down shortly be­fore the an­nounce­ment of the lat­est strike dates.

The ACAS notes state: “Em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tives chal­lenged why the

[Class 701] train had been or­dered with no Door Open but­ton in the Guard Oper­at­ing Panel with­out con­sul­ta­tion. They said this clearly was an en­forced job change.

“Em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tives said they could not ac­cept dis­cus­sions on the grounds that guards open­ing doors was not in­cluded.”

The min­utes then re­fer to a man­age­ment call for ideas to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion.

“Man­age­ment - you have three guys here that know more than I do. You may have some great ideas that make a dif­fer­ence.

“RMT - you are miss­ing the point. The idea is for you to present ideas... we have not been asked to come along here to pro­vide you with so­lu­tions to prob­lems you are cre­at­ing.

“Man­age­ment - at this point ev­ery­thing is con­fi­den­tial, we are com­pil­ing a list of ideas.

“RMT - think we need another ad­journ­ment. We’re happy to be open about what we think will and won’t fly, it’s for you to pro­vide us with those el­e­ments, we’re not pro­vid­ing them for you, we’re not seek­ing an out­come to your co­nun­drum.

“The meet­ing ad­journed.”

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