MORE walkouts planned by the RMT on South Western Railway have been suspended, after an apparent breakthrough at talks over the future of on-train staffing.
The RMT said ‘substantial progress in talks with the company has allowed the union’s executive to suspend the on-going programme of strike action on South Western Railway over the retention and the role of the guard on their trains. The next phase of strike action was due to commence on Friday.’
The proposal is that new or modified rolling stock shall be crewed with by guards with safety critical competencies, to be agreed by the RMT and SWR.
Dispatch methods will be assessed by risk assessments at each station, and these assessments will also involve both sides.
General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘We need to recognise that the breakthrough on the guard guarantee that has been secured from South Western Railway has only been achieved through nearly two years of action and campaigning by RMT members on the principle of a safe and accessible railway for all. I want to pay tribute to the resilience, solidarity and determination of our guards and drivers on SWR that has sustained this long, hard campaign.
‘I also want to thank the travelling public for their extraordinary support for the staff working at the sharp end.
‘Today’s offer of a guarantee of a guard on the SWR services in dispute is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT’s executive to take the decision to suspend the current action to allow further talks to take place with the objective of reaching a final, agreed settlement.’
A South Western Railway spokesman said: ‘We are pleased for our customers that the RMT has suspended the planned strike action for 22 February and 9 and 16 March to allow talks to take place next week. This means that we will now operate a normal service this Friday.
‘We are looking forward to further constructive discussions with the RMT and are hopeful that by building on this breakthrough we can see an end to this industrial action and together build a better railway for our customers.’