RMT trade union members are on strike today (Monday) in opposition to Southern Rail’s plan to increase the number of trains without a safety-trained guard on board.
The TUC believes that such services are significantly less safe and disadvantage female, elderly, and disabled passengers.
The vote to strike was passed with over 95% support, with an 81% turnout from RMT members, exceeding the new thresholds in the government’s Trade Union Act.
The strike has gone ahead despite an RMT offer to suspend action, should Southern Rail match a recent Scotrail proposal on this issue.
Commenting on the strike, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“This is a strike for safety on our railways, and the men and women who work on Southern Rail trains deserve our support.
“Having a guard on board is helpful and reassuring for passengers, especially when things go wrong. If you’re female, elderly, disabled or in any way vulnerable, a guard on the train makes a real difference. You can’t automate that kind of human interaction.
“In cases of emergency, guards are trained to protect passengers. That should not be risked.
“Ask any commuter and they’ll tell you that Southern Rail is a mess. The company must sit down with unions and come to a resolution which respects staff and keeps passengers safe. If Scotrail can do it, so can Southern.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Strike ballot figures: 393 RMT members work as guards for Southern Rail. All were balloted, and 321 voted (an 81% turnout). Of these, 306 voted in favour of a strike. This is 95.3% of those that voted, and 77% of all members (including non-voters).
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