Thousands face disruption as strike action begins against rail operator Southern

PUBLISHED: 08:39 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 08:39 11 October 2016




Talks held last week failed to resolve the dispute between the firm and unions

Thousands of commuters faced disruption this morning as rail workers began the first day of strike action against rail operator Southern.

Members of the RMT union have been locked in a dispute with the firm over the role of conductors, and industrial action was given the go-ahead after talks held last week failed to break the deadlock.

Southern has been forced to cut services by more than a third as a result of the strike action, and bus replacement services are operating on some routes, such as Ashford International to Hastings.

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 union said it had received a last-minute legal challenge from Southern aimed at preventing the walkouts.

General secretary Mick Cash commented: “It is appalling that rather than sitting down with us at ACAS to seek a resolution the company have chosen to run to the courts under the cloak of the anti-union laws.

“The union intends to continue with the planned action and is examining the details of the paperwork. We will issue a further statement in due course.”

Passengers’ woes were compounded this morning by overrunning engineering works between Brighton and Gatwick Airport, which meant trains were cancelled or delayed by up to an hour.

One tweeted: “Total chaos this morning, no trains at all to London due to over running engineering works combined with a strike.”

Another said he had spent £50 on a taxi to get to work.

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