British Rail Union Starts Month-long Strike

Daniel Fowler
December 5, 2019

Thousands of train passengers faced misery during Monday morning's rush hour as staff on South Western Railway began their 27-day strike.

The industrial action is set to last over the Christmas period until New Year's Day - the longest stretch of action against a major rail operator in living memory.

The union has alleged that the failure to come to terms over the future pattern of on-train staffing and the role of guards was for "political" reasons, while SWR has claimed that a deal was reached during Thursday's discussions, only for it to be rejected after the meeting by the RMT's Executive.

RMT members on the line are striking to keep a guard on every train service. But what is the strike and how many trains are still in circulation?

The company said on its website that it meant to operate more than half of its normal services Monday to Friday and that buses could replace trains on some routes.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union said its members were "standing rock solid and united" in a strike he said "is exclusively about protecting safety and accessibility on SWR trains".

There is no rational explanation for the company position and we can only assume that either they or their paymasters in Government wanted this strike action to go ahead for politically motivated purposes. The union remains available for talks and we have a deal to solve this dispute which is cost-free for SWR worked up and ready to go. "The company should grab it with both hands".

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"What we are no longer prepared to compromise on is the excellent-wished modernisation of the service with improved efficiency, security and buyer service that our contemporary quick of unusual suburban trains will vitally raise for purchasers".

"We know our passengers will welcome over 10 million more passenger journeys a year arriving on time and this much-needed improvement to our service is too important to compromise".

"We've been very clear that we're committed to keeping a guard on our trains and those guards will have safety critical competencies".

"We know the influence these RMT strikes will private on our passengers and we desire to make certain that we have completed the whole lot we can to seem at out and avert the strikes and meet RMT's antiquated and altering requires".

Mr Cash acknowledged the launch of the strikes used to be being "solidly supported", with wooden traces mounted outdoors stations at some level of the SWR network.

South Western Railway has proposed a second crew member for each train, but the unions have said they are not fed up with insurance and fear that the caretaker's role will be reduced or even eliminated.

The strikes will run from today (2 December) until Wednesday 11 December, followed by further strike days from 13 December to 24 December, and from 27 December to 1 January.

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