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Southern passengers set for more travel chaos as RMT announce Christmas and New Year strikes

Southern passengers set for more travel chaos as RMT announce Christmas and New Year strikes
Nov 03, 2016 Shaking Hands 0 comments
This post was first published on The Croydon Advertiser on 11/11/2016

Southern passengers set for more travel chaos as RMT announce Christmas and New Year strikes

Southern Rail passengers intending to travel by train during the festive period are likely to find it more difficult to reach loved ones after the RMT announced a further six-days of Christmas and New Year strikes.

The RMT Union revealed that members will stage strikes for three days from December 22 running until the end of Christmas Eve.

Workers will also walk out for another three days from New Year’s Eve until 11.59pm on January 2, disrupting two festive occasions during the Christmas and New Year strikes.

In response to the latest announcement from the RMT Union a spokesman for Southern accused the RMT of carrying out ‘spiteful strike action.’

The spokesman said: “Not content with causing months of misery, the RMT has now hit a new low and is determined to cancel Christmas for the travelling public.

“These latest strikes will not just hit families wanting to get home for Christmas but also the shops and businesses for whom Christmas is their busiest time.

“These strikes are spiteful, vindictive and pointless given the majority of conductors have now signed up to the new on-board role.

“This is has never been about safety; it’s purely about the RMT hanging on to outdated working practices and union power.”

The fresh dates are in addition to separate strike action planned for this Friday and Saturday.

More industrial action will take place on Tuesday November 22, Wednesday November 23, Tuesday December 6, Wednesday December 7 and Thursday December 8.

For months a bitter dispute between the rail firm, owned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), and the union has led to travel chaos and misery for thousands of commuters across the network.

The argument has been centred around GTR’s decision to shake-up the role of conductors transferring their duty of operating the train doors to the driver.

It is a change which the rail operator believes will improve customer interaction, but the RMT have claimed that the new role will bring a safety risk.

In a lengthy statement the RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash insisted that the union has no other option than to conduct Christmas and New Year strikes.

He said: “Yet again the sheer pig-headedness of the company and the Government means that our members are being forced to take further industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern Rail.

“Govia Thameslink and the Government have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute. RMT has called repeatedly for the Transport Secretary Chris Graying to get out of his bunker, get hold of the company and get round the negotiating table. He continues to ignore us.

“If Government ministers can meet with our colleagues from the Prison Officers Association over safety in prisons then there is no reason whatsoever why they can’t meet with RMT over safety on our railways.

“This week we have seen repeated chaos on Southern Rail services that has shown once again that they are simply incapable of running safe and reliable services.

“The only obstacle to their removal from their management contract is the Government who are calling the shots and pulling the strings behind the scenes while publicly claiming the dispute is between RMT and GTR.

“It is total nonsense but is a tactic which is deliberately blocking any chance of progress. That blockage has to be cleared as matter of urgency.

“In the light of the continuing public anger at the absolute state of the Southern Rail operation it is disgraceful that neither the company or the Government are prepared to engage and are continuing to attempt to impose driver only operation in the interests of putting profit before safety.

“We call on them to get round the negotiating table rather than jamming their heads in the sand.”