Rail conductors are being promised a lump sum payment of £2,000 if a long-running dispute is brought to an end and they sign up to take on new on-board supervisor roles.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), owner of Southern Rail which runs the Uckfield Line, is giving the RMT union until midday on Thursday (October 6) to agree an eight-point offer and previous assurances made to conductors.
The offer of a lump-sum payment has been added to the package. The proposal is to pay £2,000 to all conductors once the dispute is settled and GTR’s proposals fully implemented.
The new on-board supervisor role would include the transfer of responsiblilty for closing doors to the train driver.
Strike action has been threatened by the RMT on a series of dates the first scheduled for next week, from Tuesday, October 11, and running until Thursday, October 13. See all the dates in a previous Uckfield News story: RAIL STRIKES: Yet more misery for Uckfield Line passengers
GTR describes its plan of action to settle the ten-months-old dispute over the role of conductors on Southern trains as “fair, clear and unambiguous”.
The plan is laid out In a letter to Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary.
GTR’s eight-point offer includes guarantees on conductors’ jobs until 2021 – the life of GTR’s franchise agreement – above-inflation pay increases for the next two years and guaranteed levels of overtime.
GTR describes its new offer to the union as “one final attempt to secure your engagement” on the migration of conductors to the new on-board supervisor (OBS) role – which includes transferring to the driver responsibility for closing doors.
£2,000 lump sum
If agreement is reached conductors who move to the new OBS role would receive the one-off £2,000 lump sum payment in January.
Citing their understanding that many of the conductors are asking for a chance to express their views before further strike action, GTR is also calling on the RMT to accept the offer in full or, as a minimum, to put its offer to a vote by conductors and suspend further unnecessary strike action.
The letter from GTR to Mr Cash also says that if the union does not agree in principle to the full offer by midday on Thursday, it will “regretfully proceed without the RMT’s involvement” and serve notice letters to conductors affected, terminating their existing contracts and inviting them to sign up to the new OBS role to be effective from January 1st.
GTR has also informed the union that the 8-point offer, assurances made previously and the £2,000 lump sum payment may be rescinded after Thursday’s midday deadline.
Mr Cash has today also been invited by GTR management to meet for urgent face-to-face talks with them directly or through ACAS to discuss their offer and how to implement their modernisation proposals.
The letter to the RMT comes as Southern Railway today launches a major public information campaign to inform passengers of its offer to settle the strikes. Press ads, online ads, outdoor, station and train posters across the network entitled ‘Let’s strike back’ and ‘Let’s move forward’, call on commuters to tweet @RMTunion #southernbackontrack to tell the union how they feel about the strikes.
Sick and tired
Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said: “Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless and unnecessary dispute and we now need to bring a swift end to these strikes which have caused months of misery for hundreds of thousands of workers, children going to school, family days out and retired people.
“We have a responsibility to the travelling public and our staff and, after ten months of dispute, these strikes are plaguing people’s lives and enough is enough.
“The union and conductors have had an incredibly fair and comprehensive offer on the table for nearly two months with job security for at least five years, pay increases and overtime guaranteed.
“Today we are going the extra mile and offering our conductors a lump sum cash payment to be paid just after Christmas when they are getting on with their new roles giving fantastic service to our customers.
“We’ve given the RMT and our striking conductors a fair, clear and unambiguous plan that we intend to implement if they won’t do a deal. It’s an incredibly reasonable offer and the union’s arguments about safety and accessibility for disabled passengers are contrived. Independent experts have said that running trains with the driver closing the doors is safe and as a responsible operator we have always looked after customers with disabilities, and always will.”
“The RMT needs to understand that this change is happening and we would prefer to work with them to ensure that it’s achieved in a way that best protects the interests of our customers, our employees and the business. But no one should be in any doubt that the deadlines are fixed and immutable and we will press ahead if there is no deal by Thursday lunchtime. This dispute has to stop, and stop now.”