Southern's plan to settle train dispute revealed

Southern RailwaySouthern Railway
Southern Railway
SOUTHERN bosses have revealed the company's eight-point action plan to try to settle the rail dispute blighting the region's train network.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the parent company of Southern Trains, has published full details of a written offer to the RMT which was tabled last Friday.

Though the deal was not agreed upon ahead of this week’s strike action, which has resulted in Southern services being axed across the Portsmouth region.

GTR had given guarantees;

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• That every train currently operated with a conductor will continue to have either a traditional conductor or a second member of staff on-board;

• Traditional conductors will retain their current competencies and second members of on-board will be trained to safety-competent standards including track safety training, evacuation, traction and full route knowledge (excluding train dispatch) which will pass to the driver;

• Joint agreement by both Southern and RMT on the driver having full control of train dispatch and joint agreement by both parties to a proposed list of exceptional circumstances whereby a train can run without a second member of staff on-board;

• Guarantees to retain the On-board Supervisor role (OBS) beyond 2021, should GTR retain the franchise and minimum levels of voluntary overtime for all OBS staff, details of which would be agreed with the RMT

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• A joint review in 12 months time of the new OBS role to include role development, training and career progression;

• Collective bargaining rights for OBS staff.

GTR chief executive Charles Horton said: ‘This comprehensive and incredibly fair offer is on top of existing commitments made on no compulsory redundancies, no reduction in salary, a guaranteed above-inflation pay-rise for 2 years, additional salary paid to staff working voluntary overtime and no compulsory location moves.

‘Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless, needless and senseless strike, which is so damaging to people’s everyday lives and the South-east economy, and causing undue disruption and hardship to customers and employees.

‘I urge the RMT to come back to the table to talk, have constructive and productive discussions on the way forward and shake hands on a deal.

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‘We are prepared to meet them directly or through ACAS any time, any place, anywhere to let common sense prevail and give our customers back their trains and give them the service they expect.

‘Finally I’d like to thank the one-in-five conductors who turned up to work yesterday. They have demonstrated their commitment to serving our passengers in the best way possible. The RMT claimed support for the strike was ‘rock solid’ when the reality is large numbers of conductors now recognise that this is a pointless strike.’

Meanwhile, the RMT is holding a protest outside the Department for Transport tomorrow amid claims that the Government has put a ‘blockade’ on talks to end the dispute.

The union said it was ‘within an inch’ of reaching an agreement during the Acas talks and repeated its claim that the Government had ‘sabotaged’ any deal, naming Transport Department official Peter Wilkinson as ‘directing operations from outside’.

The department denied the claims.