Workers on South Western Railway are to stage a series of nine fresh strikes in the coming weeks in an escalation of the bitter disputes over the role of guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out for five days from October 23 and then on four consecutive Saturdays from November 3.
The company, which uses the Portsmouth to London line, has been hit by industrial action since earlier this year, with the row remaining deadlocked.
The union is also in dispute with Southern Rail over the same issue.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘South Western Railway has stalled the talks process and has failed to provide any sort of offer that comes close to resolving this dispute which matches the widespread best practice in the industry, underpinned by the guard guarantee.
‘With shocking figures from the British Transport Police showing a surge in violence on our railways it is frankly appalling that South Western Railway are looking for a green light to throw the guard off their trains as and when they see fit in the name of profit.
‘SWR might think it's acceptable to play fast and loose with passenger safety, security and access but RMT members, who have stood firm throughout this dispute despite appalling harassment from the company, will not accept a dilution of the safety regime on the railway.
‘There's a simple solution to this dispute and it means SWR stop playing with words and negotiate the guard guarantee that reflects the safety values of the agreements RMT has negotiated in other parts of the rail industry.
‘The company should get out of the bunker and start talking with us seriously rather than sitting back and just hoping the core issues of safety, security and access will go away.’
A South Western Railway spokesman said: ‘The RMT has again decided to needlessly disrupt our customers and colleagues with more strikes over the next two months.
‘The union has cynically chosen dates with the aim of targeting hard-working commuters, families enjoying the half-term holiday and sports fans to cause as much misery as possible.
‘We will be doing everything we can to minimise this disruption.
‘Our plans mean more guards, not fewer and we have guaranteed a guard with safety critical competencies to be rostered on all of our services.
‘Should the RMT proceed with these damaging strikes, we will do everything possible to provide as many services as we can.’
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