Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Five Day Rail Strikes In June Amid Row Over Guards On Trains
30 May 2019, 17:27
Workers on South Western Railway are to strike for five days next month in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are set to walk out from June 18 to 22, the week of the Royal Ascot race meeting.
Ascot is served by SWR trains.
The union accused the company of "dragging its heels" on resolving the bitter guards row.
Talks had been protracted since industrial action was suspended in February, said the union.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Our members are angry and frustrated that, despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up top our expectations on the guard guarantee.
"For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and it is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety-critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been signed off.
"It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action."
A South Western Railway spokesman said: "With further Acas talks already in the diary for 17 June, for the RMT Union to call a week of strikes starting the following day shows there is not a genuine commitment to finding a solution.
"The union has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.
"Now we want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.
"We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for our customers and colleagues alike.
"If these strikes go ahead, they will cause needless disruption.
"We are calling for the RMT to call off this unnecessary industrial action so that planned Acas talks can go ahead."