RMT rail strike union in bid to end Southern dispute
Union leaders are going into talks with MPs over a plan they claim could end the long-running row on Southern.
The rail company has been in dispute for more than a year with the RMT over changes to guards’ roles on trains.
The RMT conductors’ union saw the changes as a ploy to phase out a second person on trains. It has now proposed a six-month trial with two staff guaranteed on all affected services.
Southern said it would comment after it had seen the proposal.
Under the changes, which were also opposed by the Aslef train drivers’ union, responsibility for opening and closing doors passes to the driver rather than the conductor.
The practice is called driver-only-operation (DOO).
RMT leaders will meet MPs later to set out its “accessibility guarantee” plan, which would ensure a driver and an on-board supervisor staff all trains.
This would mean disabled, elderly and vulnerable passengers would be provided with guaranteed assistance from on-board staff on all services, without the need to book in advance, the union said.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We will be telling MPs that we are hoping the company will reconsider our proposal for a trial six-month period of an accessibility guarantee.
“We would hope that they would agree to this sensible proposal as the Association of Train Operating Companies consultant’s report has said train companies should guarantee a second person to comply with their legal obligations.”
RMT members on Southern will stage a fresh strike next Monday, while Aslef has banned overtime.