A train leaving Uckfield. (Photo from stock)

Uckfield Line trains still face disruption after strike called off

Updated at 2.30pm, Wednesday, August 10

The strike by conductor-members of the RMT Union on Southern has been suspended for Thursday (August 11) and Friday.

Southern has said it will not be possible to reinstate a full service until Friday.

The company has confirmed this afternoon on its social media that there will be no Uckfield Line trains tomorrow (Thursday).

Southern said in a statement:

“We are encouraged that the RMT has accepted our offer to resume talks at ACAS and has agreed to call off its strike action.

“For our passengers’ sake we truly hope these talks will be productive and bring this long-running dispute to an end.

“At present, the strike timetable is still in the industry train planning systems for Thursday and Friday.

“Regrettably, this means tomorrow’s service will be based upon the present strike timetable but we will do our very best to add services in and extend the hours of operation wherever possible.”

We will update this story if we hear that trains will run on Thursday to and from Uckfield.

Updated: 8.15am, Wednesday, August 10

The RMT Union has offered to suspend the last two of this week’s strike by conductors on Southern – if there are no pre-conditions.

At a demonstration organised by the union at the Department for Transport this morning, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“We have seen the pre-conditions set out in the latest letter from GTR. The company know that prescriptive pre-conditions would not allow genuine talks to take place.

“In an effort to break the deadlock and get the talks process moving RMT is prepared to suspend strike action set for Thursday and Friday if Southern agree to urgent talks without pre-conditions. The ball is now in their court.”

All services on the Uckfield Line have been suspended during the strike which began on Monday.

Some lines have a partial service.

Our story from yesterday with Southern’s statement is below

Management of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the parent company of Southern Trains, today invited the RMT to fresh talks “any time, any place, anywhere” to end the strike action which is causing travel misery for hundreds of thousands of commuters this week.

GTR also says that one-in-five rostered conductors defied RMT pressure and attended work yesterday the first day of the strike. This follows RMT claims that support from their members was ‘rock solid’.

GTR’s renewed bid to end what it calls “this pointless, needless and senseless” industrial action comes as it publishes full details of an eight-point written offer to the RMT which was tabled last Friday during talks at ACAS and which GTR reaffirmed in a letter emailed to Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary yesterday.

The key points of the offer, contained in a press release from GTR and published on Uckfield News on Friday,  are:

  1. Guarantees that every train currently operated with a conductor will continue to have either a traditional conductor or a second member of staff on-board;
  2. Guarantees traditional conductors will retain their current competencies and second members of on-board will be trained to safety-competent standards including track safety training, evacuation, traction and full route knowledge (excluding train dispatch) which will pass to the driver;
  3. Joint agreement by both Southern and RMT on the driver having full control of train dispatch and joint agreement by both parties to a proposed list of exceptional circumstances whereby a train can run without a second member of staff on-board;
  4. Guarantees to retain the On-board Supervisor role (OBS) beyond 2021, should GTR retain the franchise and minimum levels of voluntary overtime for all OBS staff, details of which would be agreed with the RMT
  5. A joint review in 12 months time of the new OBS role to include role development, training and career progression;
  6. Collective bargaining rights for OBS staff.

GTR Chief Executive Charles Horton said today:

“This comprehensive and incredibly fair offer is on top of existing commitments made on no compulsory redundancies, no reduction in salary, a guaranteed above-inflation pay-rise for two years, additional salary paid to staff working voluntary overtime and no compulsory location moves.

“Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless, needless and senseless strike, which is so damaging to people’s everyday lives and the South-east economy, and causing undue disruption and hardship to customers and employees.

“I urge the RMT to come back to the table to talk, have constructive and productive discussions on the way forward and shake hands on a deal.  We are prepared to meet them directly or through ACAS any time, any place, anywhere to let common sense prevail and give our customers back their trains and give them the service they expect.

“Finally I’d like to thank the one-in-five conductors who turned up to work yesterday. They have demonstrated their commitment to serving our passengers in the best way possible. The RMT claimed support for the strike was ‘rock solid’ when the reality is large numbers of conductors now recognise that this is a pointless strike”

What the deal means in detail:

The offer What it means
1.      Southern will guarantee that every train currently operated with a conductor will continue to have either a traditional conductor or a second member of on board staff diagrammed/rostered. This guarantees a second member of staff on every train that has one today, for the life of the GTR franchise.
2.      Southern guarantee that traditional conductors will retain current competence and will guarantee that the second member of on board staff will be trained to a ‘safety competent’ level including track safety training, train evacuation, traction competence and full commercial route knowledge (excluding train dispatch). This guarantees the vital safety role of the on-board staff, including training in safety.
3.      Southern will propose a list of exceptional circumstances, to be agreed with RMT, whereby a train can continue in service without a second member of on board staff, for the benefit of customers. This is vital to achieve the main objective of the change – reducing train delays and cancellations. It means that in times of service disruption, a train can run without a conductor in circumstances when otherwise it would be cancelled. The criteria for this would be agreed with RMT.
4.      These proposals, including the above guarantees, are dependent upon agreement that services with a second member of on board staff (rather than a traditional conductor) will have the driver in full control of train dispatch. Agreement for this to be implemented will be ratified at local level. This ensures best-use of the new train technology. As the independent rail safety board have concluded, on modern trains it is safe, and may in fact be safer, for drivers to operate the doors rather than conductors.
5.      Collective bargaining rights for the new OBS role, ensuring that this group will have a voice within the organisation as well as full negotiation rights. This protects the interests of conductors in their new role and locks-in traditional collective bargaining rights
6.      A joint review of the OBS role after 12 months of operation, to look at role development, training and future career development. This ensures the role will be properly reviewed and, if necessary, changed, after 12 months of operation. The review will be joint with RMT, giving them a key role.
7.      A guaranteed minimum level of voluntary overtime for all OBSs, the detail of which would be agreed with the RMT. This guarantees and protects the conductors from any loss of income in the new role.
8.      A guarantee to retain the OBS role at the levels already guaranteed, beyond 2021, should GTR retain the franchise.  This guarantees that the retention of the role will be a key part of GTR’s bid in the franchise renewal process.

See also:

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