Fresh two-day rail strike on Southern services

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Southern services are due to be hit by a fifth rail-strike in less than five months.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has been locked in a bitter dispute with the RMT union for months over plans for conductors to become on-board supervisors.

Drivers would operate train doors instead of the conductors, something the union has objected to on safety grounds and fears over future job losses.

During the dispute, which has seen several walkouts by the RMT, passengers have faced months of disruption due to staff shortages and a revised weekday timetable was brought in back in early July.

When talks broke down between the union and rail operator last week, GTR said it would forge ahead with its proposals, and this week it explained that its revenue protection inspectors would be the first to change to move to the on-board supervisor role.

But the RMT is due to hold a 48-hour strike starting Wednesday September 7.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “This action has been forced on us by the arrogance and inaction of the Govia Thameslink and the Government who have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute or in tackling the daily chaos on Southern.

“Instead they have begun the process of bulldozing through the drive towards wholesale Driver Only Operation without agreement and without any concern for the impact on safety, security and disability access.

“Our fight is with the company and the Government who have dragged this franchise into total meltdown.

“We share the anger and frustration of passengers and we cannot sit back while jobs and safety are compromised on these dangerously overcrowded trains.”

Alex Foulds, Southern passenger service director, said: “Passengers and staff will once again be appalled by the RMT’s decision to hold yet another strike. We are moving forward with our plans for the benefit of customers after nine months of fruitless attempts to reach an agreement.

“This action is unnecessary, unjustified and futile – we have guaranteed all our onboard staff a job until the end of the franchise, as valued members of our future operation, with no reduction in salary.

“And claims that safety is at risk are just untrue. The independent rail safety body has said so, and nearly half our trains run without conductors already.”

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