The latest series of disruptive rail strikes will come to an end tomorrow following a 20-month dispute that is yet to be resolved.
In an official statement last week, rail union RMT confirmed it would carry out three days of strikes this week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The strike action comes after a lengthy and unresolved dispute between train operators South Western Railway and the RMT union over the job security of train guards.
On Wednesday last week, the rail union said proposed talks with the rail operator have collapsed after the company unilaterally decided to ‘walk away’.
The union claimed it had arranged to meet the rail operator in a ‘last ditch’ attempt to negotiate. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The union is angry and frustrated that our efforts to get talks back under way with South Western Railway over 20 months into our dispute with the company have been kicked back in our faces when it looked like we were making some progress.”
They said the objective of the talks with South Western Railway was to seek an agreement that guarantees a guard on their trains and therefore ‘protects the safety, security and access of the travelling public’.
Andy Mellors, managing director at SWR said: “I know that you will share my disappointment that once again you are to be inconvenienced by this unnecessary industrial action.
“The last few months have been challenging, with industrial action and poor performance, making life difficult for everyone. I had hoped to start the New Year on a more positive note.”
He added: “We will continue to try and find a solution, but it is difficult to see what this dispute is about. It’s not about money as we have guaranteed people’s terms and conditions, it’s not about jobs because we have said we will need more guards not less as we run more and longer trains; and it’s not about safety as we want to keep the second person on our trains to provide help and assistance.”
A contingency timetable will remain in place tomorrow, after SWR said there would be rail replacement bus services, ticket acceptance on other train companies, and lengthening of trains in key areas.
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