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24 January: news in brief

Staff vote in favour of more SWR strikes

A STRIKE ballot which the RMT was legally obliged to hold again on South Western Railway has returned a vote in favour of continuing the long-running industrial action over on-train staffing and the role of guards. Around four out of five of those who voted in the latest ballot approved more action, although no strike dates have yet been announced. SWR said that it was ‘obviously disappointed’ with the outcome and pointed out that ‘less than half of eligible RMT members’ voted in favour of more walkouts. The union staged almost continuous strikes in December, and only returned to normal working on 2 January. SWR itself is in crisis, after announcing major losses. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said earlier this week that the present franchise is ‘no longer sustainable’. He is now considering options which include renationalising SWR by transferring it to the government’s Operator of Last Resort.

Union accepts RPI+ Underground deal

THE rail union TSSA has accepted a pay offer from London Underground which will give its mainly clerical and managerial members annual pay increases equivalent to the Retail Prices Index plus 0.2 per cent until 2023. The new deal is being back-dated to April 2019. The union said the agreement had followed ‘protracted negotiations’ which began in February last year, and that the threat of industrial action had now been lifted. TSSA organising director Lorraine Ward said: ‘We know all too well the challenging times LU has been faced with as a result of the loss of government funding in the form of the operating grant, and the delays to Crossrail. Rightly our members have been frustrated over the length of time it has taken to achieve a reasonable pay offer. They now know that they can get on with the most important job of keeping London Underground running safely day in day out – and do so with a fair pay deal.’

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