COMMUTERS suffered again during a second strike by conductors in a row over changes to their role.
The second round of action had a significant effect on Southern Rail services from Portsmouth yesterday.
Members of the RMT union are taking the action against changes being made by Southern Rail to the role of their on-board conductors, which would see drivers open the doors instead of them.
Southern, which is operated by Govia Thameslink, said the action was ‘unnecessary’.
It said it had met the RMT about the changes eight times since December and written to the union repeatedly.
Dyan Crowther, GTR chief operating officer, said: ‘Despite repeated efforts over six months, the RMT Union seem unwilling to talk properly about this. It’s time for them to come back to the negotiating table, and talk sensibly about these changes.
‘The only thing that changes is the new conductors will no longer close the doors, a task that passes to the driver with the aid of CCTV.
‘This will cost no-one their jobs, and frees up staff on board trains to better serve passengers.’
RMT general secretary Mick Cash hit back at the claims and accused Southern of a ‘disgraceful campaign of misinformation’.
He said: ‘It is scandalous that the company has blocked attempts to reach a negotiated settlement and it’s about time they stopped the lies, and the bullying and the intimidation of their safety-critical guards, and started serious and meaningful talks with the union.’
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt urged the two sides to resume talks.
She said: ‘I would hope that whatever their differences both the RMT and Southern Rail will have passengers’ wellbeing uppermost in their concern and care.
‘Strikes always hit the passenger hard, many of whom will rely on this service to get to work. I deeply regret that such action has been taken and would urge a more constructive path.’
No further strike action is planned , although the dispute remains live and more could be called.