THE RMT has accused South Western Railway of trying to mislead the public over its attitude to on-train staffing.
Three new strike dates have been announced on SWR, although strikes on Northern over the same issue have been suspended after talks made progress this week.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Once again SWR are playing with words and trying to con the public. Rostering a guard and giving a guarantee that all trains will have a guard on board – the assurance we have had from Northern and other operators – are two completely different things.
‘SWR are trying to create a loophole they can drive an unlimited number of driver only trains through and they know it. They should stop playing games and start getting serious.’
A new vote has also just revealed that 88 per cent of RMT members on SWR support continuing industrial action. Mr Cash added: ‘RMT has been forced under the latest wave of Tory anti-union laws to ballot for a fourth time in the rail safety dispute on South Western Railway under the six month rule and once again our members have stood united and solid and have renewed the mandate to carry on the fight to put public safety before private profit.
‘It is a disgrace that South Western Railway have yet again opted to play for time over the past six months rather than acting responsibly and getting round the table with the union to work out a solution to this dispute.’
A South Western Railway spokesman said: ‘We are obviously very disappointed for our customers that the RMT union plans to continue this needless industrial action.
‘We have repeatedly committed to rostering a guard on all our services – the same assurance that seem to have been sufficient for the RMT to suspend its strikes elsewhere in the country earlier this week. No jobs are at risk and our plans over the course of the franchise mean we will need more guards, not fewer.’
A further strike is now planned on SWR on 22 February, with more walkouts set to follow on 9 and 16 March unless negotiations make progress in the meantime.
Although the Northern strikes have been suspended, tomorrow will still follow the now-familiar strike day timetable. Northern said the talks breakthrough had come too late to restore full services until next Saturday, 16 February.