Southwestern Railguard Conflict

The dispute between the United Kingdom’s National Rail, Shipping and Transport Workers Union (RMT) and the rail operator Southwestern Railroad (SWR) ended after a strike of 4 years and 74 days.

The controversy that arose in June 2017 after the SWR decided to introduce a fleet of new trains revolved around the fact that in the new fleet, drivers operate doors on behalf of guards. ..

As reported by BBCThe parties reached a compromise in April, when RMT achieved the security guard’s guarantee. This is a relief that the guards are still on the train. In exchange, RMT agreed that the guards would transfer duties to passenger services, withdrawing previous claims that this was unsafe.

“This agreement is an important milestone in our journey to provide our customers with a better experience while providing certainty to our colleagues and the communities in which we serve,” SWR said. increase. “All stakeholders are now able to break away from the turmoil caused by this conflict and focus on returning customers to more punctual, reliable and customer-friendly railroads within the next few months. . “

June 20, 2017: SWR buys new fleet

SWR, along with franchise operators FirstGroup and MRT, announced an order for £ 895m for 90 new AVENTRA trains on June 20th. This will increase peak capacity by 46% and provide Wi-Fi and seat charging points. And air conditioner.

“This multi-million pound investment in a new fleet of British trains is great news for Southwest passengers and the British economy,” commented then-Minister of Transport Paul Maynard. “This investment reflects our commitment and the commitment of train operating companies to put passengers at the center of everything we do, improve travel and target congestion.”

The announcement warned RMT for peace of mind about the location of train guards.

“At South West Trains, there is an agreement that there will be no extension of driver-only operations or threats to the work or role of security guards, and that agreement will move the business to the first MTR South West franchise,” said Mick Cash. increase. In November 2020, he resigned as General Secretary of RMT. “This agreement is valid regardless of the procurement of a new fleet or the announcement of a new train by the company today.”

“RMT has sent a letter to First MTR requesting that by July 3rd, there be a clear guarantee that it will not interfere with the current agreement. Driver only The operation and it will be respected by the new franchise owner. “

August-October 2017: RMT declares formal dispute and plans strike

As a result of the lack of security in the roles of SWR and MRT guards, on August 21, 2017, RMT declared a formal dispute and voted to decide whether to strike.

“RMT has repeatedly given First MTR the guarantee we have sought for the future role of train guards during the new Southwestern franchise,” said Cash. I am. “They refused to give us those guarantees, and it’s that failure that leaves RMT no choice, proclaiming a formal dispute with the company and moving towards voting for action. . “

Eighty percent of RMT members are voting in favor of SWR, and the union went ahead and voted for a strike on October 3. The SWR response said on the same day, a spokesperson said: ..

“We urge RMT to work together to avoid premature strikes and provide them to our customers, and as already agreed, on October 5th our future I look forward to seeing you again to discuss the plan. “

December 2017: Confusion, Confusion, Contradiction

After the guards went on strike in November, the union announced another action on New Year’s Eve. When the RMT later stated that it was the responsibility of the union and employer to reach an agreement only to ask the RMT to accept driver operations, the decision was made earlier with government officials. He said it was also based on the meeting.

On strike day, SWR’s managing director Andy Mellors said the company is implementing an emergency response plan.

“Our passengers only want to travel with friends and loved ones to celebrate the New Year,” he said. “We know how much the passengers care about the second person, so we repeatedly assured RMT that we would have guards on the train.”

July- August 2018: RMT launches strike after definitive talks

After a series of uncertain talks and industrial actions were announced and suspended between January and June, RMT announced a strike covering every Saturday from July 26th to August.

“RMT responds to the union’s request for serious discussions with the Southwestern Railroad, which was terminated by noon today, in response to the same old tired reaction from a company that refuses to proceed with the process and tackle the underlying problem. I’m angry and frustrated with that, “Cash said. “The positive proposals made by the union in previous consultations that could form the basis of the agreement were welcomed by management, but were subsequently hampered by the escalation of SWR’s management structure, which is especially biting.”

The SWR said the union refused to accept the business’s transaction, even though it had previously accepted similar transactions in a dispute with Greater Anglia. “We hoped that by reflecting the wording of the recent agreement with Greater Anglia, we could end this harmful dispute for passengers and employees,” the press dated August 1. I read the statement. Despite reassuring security guards for all services, including the new suburban fleet to be introduced in 2019, the union has agreed with Greater Anglia, so it agrees with some flexibility in the event of a turmoil. I refused to do that. “

The strikes in August and September culminated in a four-day strike at the end of October.

November 2019: The strike was called again after the SWR framework was rejected

After a few months of peaceful months, SWR and RMT went back and forth in November 2019 after the union announced a 27-day strike from November to December.

“RMT has always said that he wants to be on the lookout for all trains,” said an SWR spokesman.

“This is a framework contract if RMT works with us to agree on a new way of operating trains that will take full advantage of new technologies to improve safety, security, accessibility and improve day-to-day operations. Provided as part of the performance.

“Instead, RMT appears to be purely focused on maintaining control of train doors in a false attempt to dominate the industry.

“Since the franchise started, we have demonstrated our commitment to the role of security guard by introducing more than 80 additional security guard roles, but RMT has long-term for both our customers and colleagues, including their members. Does not bring any benefit. The center of their actions. “

The RMT has accused the company of taking advantage of the SWR’s denial of previous negotiation agreements.

“We haven’t received anything from the company yet and they haven’t made any attempts to reach an agreement,” Cash refused. “These strikes could have been easily avoided if the company had adhered to the agreement, contacted RMT and provided further discussion.”

The union also said it had made proposals to ensure that security guards played an essential role and ensured safety but uselessness.

December 2019: RMT asks SWR to return to negotiation table

After discussions with the advisory, mediation and arbitration service (ACAS), the government agency responsible for employment advice, RMT asked SWR to return to the negotiating table and spend 3-4 seconds at the station. I asked the company to add it. To ensure safety and accessibility.

The SWR responded by explaining that the union needs to make concrete plans to enable the transport of the same amount of people.

“We have more time for security guards to help people in wheelchairs and people with buggies get on and off the train, walk up and down all carriages, and ensure passenger safety when needed. I want to be able to spend it, “Melers wrote in a letter. To cash. “RMT’s current approach stops guards from moving the entire length of the train and doing as much as we and the guards want.”

To begin the settlement process, RMT sought a set of guarantees, including a guarantee that the guard’s role would last until the end of the franchise and that the guard would retain critical safety capabilities.

2020: Negotiations stop

Prior to the pandemic, negotiations between RMT and SWR stopped when the company explained that it was losing income and was considering bringing it into public ownership at the government level.

“RMT members continue to argue over safety and the role of security guards on SWR trains, and the current uncertainty about the future of the franchise could lead to serious negotiations as the company awaits its fate. It’s been hampered, “Cash said.

The pandemic only made things worse, as the company was forced to consider headcount reductions.

2021: Both parties make concessions and reach an agreement

Finally, four years later, both sides compromised and reached an agreement. As the BBC saw, the agreement included a reduction in security guard time from 42 hours to 37 hours, increasing payments of £ 1.50 per hour. Southwestern Railguard Conflict

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