On the eve of another damaging three-day strike by the RMT on Southern, Govia Thameslink Railway has called on the union to suspend strikes and hold a referendum of its members to allow them to decide for themselves whether they want to accept its 8-point offer plus £2,000 lump sum per person which is back on the table.
And GTR has revealed that more conductors than ever are defying the RMT’s strikes with almost a third now turning up for work.
Chief Executive Officer at GTR Charles Horton said:
“The RMT needs to reflect on the hardship, distress and frustration being experienced by our customers and employees. Everyone wants to see an end to this dispute, but it is clear that, as things stand, there is currently little prospect of a negotiated settlement between us, however much we’ve tried.
“There have been significant developments since the union tabled the original ballot to conductors over six months ago. In order to move things forward, I am asking to union to let conductors - the people at the heart of this matter - determine whether this dispute comes to an end or continues.
“Nearly a third of conductors are now coming into work on strike days and we expect that to increase. There is a full and fair offer on the table and it’s time to stop the strikes and move forward.”
More conductors turned up for work during last week’s strike - over 27% or nearly a third of those rostered to work compared to 16.5% during the 18 May strike (and 17% for the 26/27 April strike).
The dispute – key points
- The mandate on which the RMT is now set to strike on again is now over six months old.
- The points on which the RMT held its ballot are invalid:
- GTR and independent safety experts say it is perfectly safe for the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of a modern train – that is what drivers are trained for and competent to do, and that is how a third of the trains in this country already operate.
- There will be a second person rostered to work every single train that has one today – and more still – who are trained in safety and ready to help passengers with all their needs.
- The majority of existing conductors will continue in their current roles, with no changes whatsoever.
- The RMT has advised its members to sign their new On Board Supervisor contracts
- GTR has a full, fair and comprehensive offer on the table for the RMT to agree. The offer guarantees:
- a job until 2021
- above-inflation pay rises and guaranteed levels of overtime
- a £2,000 payment to all conductor staff and revenue staff who have already taken up the new On Board Supervisor role on Southern/GX and Passenger Host role on Thameslink/Great Northern.
- The RMT has rejected this offer but it is back on the table because GTR says conductors should be given the opportunity to vote on it in a referendum
- Meanwhile, GTR is implementing the changes it needs to make to its train services and on-board roles in order to modernise its service and improve services for passengers. 80 people are already in the new On Board Supervisor roles, working on trains where conductors had never worked before, and over 100 additional services are now operating with the driver in sole charge of the train.
Notes to editors
The percentage of conductors reporting for work during strikes has risen steadily as shown below:
26-27 April 17%
18 May 16.6%
21 June 20.7%
8-10 August 21.5%
7-8 September 24%
11-13 October 27%