RMT and Southern Rail Talks Broken Down

15 August 2016, 17:18 | Updated: 15 August 2016, 20:04

Talks have broken down between Southern Rail and the RMT in the long-running row over the role of conductors

Talks aimed at resolving the dispute over the role of conductors on Southern Railway services have broken down.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which staged three days of strikes over the issue last week, claimed the operator rejected its proposal that would have ensured the role delivered by a second person on a train in addition to the driver.

The union's executive will consider its next move shortly.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ``We had a golden opportunity in these talks to make some serious progress on the core issue of a second person on the train who would have protected the safety of passengers, delivered customer service and ensured access to services for those with disabilities or needing assistance.

``It's a bitter blow that a firm set of union proposals that could have allowed us to move forward were rejected out of hand. The matter will be discussed by the union executive this afternoon.''

Talks aimed at resolving the row broke down at the conciliation service Acas on Monday morning.

Commenting, Angie Doll, Govia Thameslink Railways Passenger Services Director, said:

‘’We have been talking to the union for nine months now and, despite several visits to Acas, the union won't agree a deal. Passengers will be rightly exasperated that the RMT won’t agree to what most fair-minded people would believe is an incredibly good offer. We are guaranteeing jobs, pay and a second person on as many trains as we do today and also offered to work with the RMT to agree modern working practices to reduce cancellations and passenger disruption.

“The RMT’s position does not help our passengers at all. We have guaranteed to have a second person on as many trains as today, but the union is rigidly refusing our offer to agree a list of exceptional circumstances when we would be able to run our trains without a second staff member on board, such as during disruption to still get people home. This would create the crucial flexibility we need to ensure fewer cancelled trains for our passengers.

"The RMT has repeatedly tried to play the safety card as the issue but it did not raise this issue at all during these latest talks, confirming this dispute is purely about union power and control. The fact is that, day in, day out for decades, up and down Britain’s railways and the Tube network, we’ve had the driver operating the doors, safely. This is backed up by independent research and expert opinion, including that of the Rail Safety and Standards Board.

"We will now move forward with our modernisation plans which will deliver better customer service for our passengers. Our eight-point proposal is still on the table and we urge the RMT to give this serious consideration. Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with our staff as we start to implement these vital changes. After so much unnecessary industrial action, we must all get back to the job of giving our passengers the service they expect and deserve."