Commuters brace themselves for more strikes after Southern talks break down

14:46 06 October 2016




The rail company has vowed to press ahead with its modernisation plans

Commuters are bracing themselves for further strike action following the collapse of talks between Southern Rail and the RMT Union.

A three-hour meeting between union representatives and company officials this morning failed to break the deadlock over a long-running dispute regarding the role of conductors.

Three days of strike action will now go ahead from Tuesday to Thursday next week after the RMT claimed the operator rejected “perfectly reasonable” proposals it had put forward.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “The union is angry and disappointed that a fresh set of proposals put forward by the union today that address both our issues and the company agenda have been rejected out of hand with barely a cursory glance.

“The travelling public will be rightly angry that the company have kicked back in our faces a chance to resolve this long-running dispute.”

Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, wants the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of its trains, but the RMT is determined to retain the role of conductors.

The RMT claims its latest proposals for conductors to become ‘on-board supervisors’ could have resolved the six-month-long dispute, but GTR criticised the union for refusing to accept its “full, fair and comprehensive offer”.

GTR says its offer guaranteed conductors a job until 2021, above-inflation pay rises and guaranteed levels of overtime, along with a £2,000 payment to all those in the new role in January.

Chief executive of GTR Charles Horton, said: “I’m deeply disappointed that the RMT leadership have rejected our offer – their counter-proposal didn’t come anywhere near our goals of modernising our train service for the benefit of passengers. All they have offered is a superficial rebadging of the conductors as on-board supervisors in name only.

“I am incredibly sorry about the months of misery our passengers have suffered. Our aim is to make a significant change to put services back on track and get our passengers where they want, safely and on time.

“We will now press ahead with our plans to modernise services to give customers what they expect and deserve – a train service fit for the 21st century. “

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