New strike date announced in Southern rail dispute
15:27 12 January 2017
The RMT union has criticised Southern boss Charles Horton in a fresh war of words
Southern Railway guards are to stage a fresh 24-hour strike on January 23 in their long-running dispute over staffing.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said it had been ‘forced’ into further industrial action after Southern boss Charles Horton refused to honour a pledge to retain a second member of staff on trains.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “In the BBC TV debate this week Mr Horton made that pledge again and also promised further direct talks with the union. Since then we have heard nothing.
“It is down to the company to end this posturing and to get back into the room with us to kick-start the negotiating process which is what the public are clearly crying out for.
“There is a golden opportunity between now and the next phase of action to get serious and genuine talks underway. RMT is available but is down to Southern/GTR to show that same commitment and to stick to the promises they gave on camera in front of TV audience across the region.”
A Southern spokesman said Mr Horton invited the RMT to fresh talks and made a formal written offer to Aslef over a week ago, but had heard “absolutely nothing”.
He added: “This wholly unjustified industrial action is causing utter misery and hardship to the travelling public and is having a significant impact on people’s work and family lives and the regional economy.
“We remain ready to meet the RMT leadership, as we do Aslef, anytime, any place, anywhere to find a way to end their disputes.
“These strikes are not about safety; it’s purely about the unions trying to turn the clock back, hang on to outmoded working practices, which technology now eradicates, and union power.
“We need to modernise our trains and the services passengers want.
“Every train that previously had a conductor before January 1 now has either a conductor or a safety-competent on-board supervisor rostered to work. We need to end these strikes and end them now.”
A further round of drivers’ strikes are planned for the end of the month, with industrial action by the Aslef union taking place on January 24, 25 and 27.