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SOUTHERN RAILWAY STRIKE: WEDNESDAY 18 MAY

Press Release   •   May 17, 2016 10:55 BST

SOUTHERN HITS OUT AT RMT FOR REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE

PLANS KEEP STAFF ON TRAINS AND MAKE THEM MORE VISIBLE

PLANS WILL RESULT IN FEWER TRAIN CANCELLATIONS IN FUTURE

In advance of tomorrow’s RMT strike action, Southern Railway has hit out at the RMT Union for its refusal to negotiate on the changes to the conductors’ role that the company is making.

Since December, the company has met with the union about the changes eight times and written to them repeatedly. We last met on Thursday, so their claim we are not talking is disingenuous.

Commenting on the RMT’s refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue, Dyan Crowther, GTR Chief Operating Officer, said:

"Despite repeated efforts over six months, the RMT Union seem unwilling to talk properly about this. Our door remains open to talks but they seem determined to inflict another day of misery on Southern commuters. It's time for them to come back to the negotiating table, and talk sensibly about these changes.

“The only thing that changes is the new conductors will no longer close the doors, a task that passes to the driver with the aid of CCTV. This will cost no-one their jobs, and frees up staff on board trains to better serve passengers."

The company also responded to RMT polling which showed that passengers want staff to remain on trains.

“We wholeheartedly agree with our passengers who want staff to remain on trains and that’s exactly why as many services will have staff on board as they do today. And our on-board staff will have a better role which better meets the needs of passengers, securing their valued position on the railway for the long-term.”

Finally, Southern set out how the change to the conductor role will result in fewer train cancellations in future: At present, during periods of service disruption conductors are tied to specific routes and services. The new on-board role will be more flexible and be able to go anywhere on our network. This means Southern will be able to allocate staff to trains more flexibly, and significantly reduce the perennial problem of train cancellations due to conductors not being available.

Under this arrangement, the unprecedented high level of conductor sickness in recent days would not have forced us to cancel so many of our passenger services.

And claims by the RMT that we are deliberately cancelling trains are completely illogical because every cancelled train costs Southern money under its punctuality and reliability commitments.

Ends

Notes to editors

Southern expects to run around two-thirds of its 2,100 services tomorrow, Wednesday 18 May, during the RMT conductor strike. However, there will be a significant impact for the whole of the day affected, with no service on several routes and only a limited service between approximately 07.30 and 18.00 on others (although Southern will extend the service hours if possible).