Rail strike planned for Monday, July 10

Rail union RMT has confirmed a 24-hour strike by its guards and conductors targeting Southern Rail, operators of the Uckfield Line, on Monday, July 10.

This is because of the on-going dispute over the “safety impact of the extension of driver-only operation and the removal of guards from services”.

The union says the strike will run from 0001 hours and 2359 hours on July 10.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary said: “RMT members on Southern Rail have been fighting for safety and access for well over a year now.

“The franchise continues to lurch from crisis to crisis as the real impact of hacking back on safety and access hits home.

“We have seen absolute chaos at Victoria and East Croydon this week in the hot weather which has reinforced the need for safety critical staff on our trains and platforms. The Government cannot spin their way out of this chaotic situation which is wholly of their making.

“It is now down to Southern/GTR, and the contract holders in the minority Government, to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”

Modernisation

Southern said: “Once again the RMT is refusing to play its part in the modernisation of the railway.  Southern is the most congested network in the UK with passenger numbers into London doubling in just 12 years, so modernisation of infrastructure, trains and working practices is essential to provide the service levels passengers need and deserve.

“While we have been willing to negotiate and have made four comprehensive offers, the RMT has not demonstrated any serious intent to resolve its dispute. It has not put any of our four offers to its members, including our latest of 16 May, to which we’ve had no formal response. This offered guarantees on job security, staffing ratios, rostering and enhanced training.”

The spokesperson added: “The RMT is relying on an outdated 14-month-old ballot for this action. There have been very significant changes in the situation so it no longer provides a mandate for strike action.  We can only speculate about the true reasons for the RMT’s actions and its desire to continue making passengers suffer.”

ASLEF to ballot members

The train drivers’ union ASLEF has announced it will ballot members about strike action. Ballot papers will be issued on June 29, with a return date of July 13.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “Our ballot reflects a complete loss of faith and trust in Southern Rail as the company has shown no respect for agreements we spent years negotiating. We are balloting because of the company’s inept attempt to conflate pay and changes to working practices.”

He added: “I again give notice to the government and the rail industry that if any train driver is verbally abused, threatened or attacked as a result of the lies peddled by Southern Rail, we reserve the right to do whatever is necessary to protect our members, on Southern or nationally.”

Southern says they have offered a 23.8% pay award that would, over four years, take a driver’s base salary to £60,683 for the existing 35-hour, four-day week.

Significant offer

A spokesperson said: “People will be amazed the ASLEF leadership has rejected such a significant pay offer for their members, especially as they have twice before accepted the extension of driver-controlled operation which has now been in place for over six months.

“ASLEF should now suspend the overtime ban due to start on 29 June, pending the result of this new ballot, because we won’t be able keep our pay offer on the table if they press ahead with interim industrial action.

“This ballot is a real chance for drivers to end this dispute by showing they want to accept the 23.8% pay offer and work with us to modernise the congested Southern network as updated infrastructure, trains and working practices provide the service passengers need and deserve.”

See also:

Uckfield trains suspended after lightning strike

UCTC’s late bid for grant to support counselling rejected by town council

Former Uckfield firefighter writes about the tragedy of austerity

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

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