Rail union calls off one of two Southern strikes

Southern train SUS-150225-010356001

Southern train SUS-150225-010356001

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A rail union at the centre of a dispute with the operator of Southern services has called off one of two strikes planned for next week.

Govia Thameslink Railway has been locked in a bitter dispute with the RMT for months over its plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors.

The RMT is planning a 48-hour walkout starting on Wednesday September 7, the fifth time it has taken strike action so far this year.

Its station staff were also due to hold a single day of industrial action on Wednesday over GTR’s proposals to cut opening hours at railway station ticket offices, but this has now been suspended.

Earlier this year the rail operator announced plans to introduce ‘station hosts’ selling tickets on station concourses at the same time as slashing ticket office opening hours to weekday peak times only.

But after talks with the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association GTR has taken the original proposals off the table.

Instead the company will be conducting a six month pilot at eight stations using volunteer staff to test the new station host role.

Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, said: “It is a testament to the solidarity and determination of our station staff members on Govia Thameslink that we have been able to achieve significant progress in the talks at ACAS that have enabled us to suspend next week’s action.

“The leverage from the vote for strike action has been pivotal in securing the package of measures that will protect jobs, safety and the services we deliver to the travelling public.

“The separate dispute on the Southern section of GTR over guards and safety remains unresolved and the strike action involving our members next week goes ahead as planned.

“The union will be focussing all of its efforts on supporting this safety-critical group of members as they continue to fight for safe, secure and accessible services for all.”

A Southern spokesman said: “We are pleased for our passengers that the RMT has called off its planned station staff strike and we look forward to working together to deliver a better railway for everyone.

“While it is good news that this dispute has been suspended, we are disappointed that the dispute with the RMT over changes to the role of Southern conductors remains.

“With two further strikes planned for Wednesday and Thursday next week this means, if the strikes go ahead, on these days we will be operating a contingency strike timetable and passengers are advised to check our website www.southernrailway.com for details.”

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