Dis­pute drags on as South Western Rail­way and RMT trade ac­cu­sa­tions

Rail (UK) - - News -

South Western Rail­way has ac­cused the RMT union of play­ing pol­i­tics, as in­dus­trial ac­tion con­tin­ues to blight its net­work.

The union has coun­tered by say­ing that it is fight­ing for safety and ac­ces­si­bil­ity on SWR’s trains. It also con­tends that SWR claimed £26 mil­lion to re­im­burse rev­enue lost through in­dus­trial ac­tion, say­ing this could have been used to cut fares by 2.5%.

An SWR spokesman said on De­cem­ber 31 (one of the strike days): “The RMT con­tin­ues to play pol­i­tics with their on­go­ing strike ac­tion, caus­ing mis­ery at a time when peo­ple just want to be with friends and fam­ily to cel­e­brate the New Year. If the union re­ally cares about pas­sen­gers it should call off these strikes and start help­ing to build a bet­ter rail­way.

“We have guar­an­teed to ros­ter a guard on ev­ery train - we are em­ploy­ing more, not fewer, guards. We re­main fo­cused on run­ning ser­vices and de­liv­er­ing the im­prove­ments our cus­tomers de­serve, in­clud­ing in­vest­ing £1.2 bil­lion over the course of the fran­chise.”

RMT Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Mick Cash said: “Of­fi­cial par­lia­men­tary an­swers have shown that the Govern­ment is pre­par­ing to bail out South Western Rail­way for rev­enues lost as a re­sult of strike ac­tion.

“Pas­sen­gers will be out­raged to know that in­stead of tak­ing steps to re­solve this dis­pute, rail min­is­ters are in­stead pro­long­ing it.

“Thanks to the gen­eros­ity of the Govern­ment, South Western doesn’t lose a penny from strikes and there­fore has lit­tle in­cen­tive to ne­go­ti­ate se­ri­ously.

“We es­ti­mate that the cost to date of this strike bail out is over £26m, enough to fund a 2019 fare cut for all South Western pas­sen­gers.”

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