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Public Supports RMT Action Union Leader Claims As More Service Restrictions Announced

Published on: 16 Dec, 2022
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2022

By Martin Giles

South Western Railway (SWR) is once again urging customers to check before they travel and expect disruption because of strike action by RMT and TSSA unions. And once again there will be no SWR services from Guildford but a limited service from Woking.

Earlier this week the RMT leader claimed in a TV interview that polls indicate the majority of the public supports the action.

Summary of SWR travel advice:

  • Sunday, December 18 – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Monday 19 to Friday, December 23  – check before you travel
  • Saturday, December 24 – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Sunday and Monday, December 25 and 26 – no service
  • Tuesday, December 27 – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Wednesday, 28 to Monday, January 2 – check before you travel

The industrial action includes a ban on RMT members working overtime or on rest days and affects people in a variety of roles, including guards on trains as well as dispatchers on platforms and shunters in depots.

A SWR spokesperson said: “This means that SWR’s ability to operate train services is significantly limited throughout the extended period of industrial action.

“On some dates across this period there are also major engineering works taking place which further complicates the planning of services.”

There will be a severely reduced service on a very limited number of routes, from 0700 to 2200 only:

  • Four trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Woking
  • Two trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Basingstoke
  • Two trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Southampton Central

Trains will not stop at all the stations on some of these routes. There will be no SWR services across the rest of the network on 18 December.

On December 24 (Christmas Eve), there will be a reduced service with an early shutdown. Some last services from London Waterloo will leave as early as midday, with all services finished and trains taken out of service by 1500. On December 27, there will be a late start-up from around 1200 followed by a reduced service.

Customers who have no choice but to travel should check the SWR website to see which services are running on these days: www.southwesternrailway.com/strike.

Mick Lynch RMT

Interviewed on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (December 13) RMT’s General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Something’s changed, Network Rail have decided from Wednesday to start imposing their unacceptable changes that our members have just voted against.

“They have told us that no matter what happens they will impose work-life balance changes, changes to the working practices, and cuts to the safety inspection regime on the railway by 50 per cent.

“So we had to respond to that. The additional strike action that we’re putting on is during the Christmas shutdown, as from Christmas Eve the railway shuts down for engineering work. During that period our members will take additional strike action which is frankly targeted at Network Rail’s engineering works rather than the passenger service.

“I have no intention of spoiling people’s Christmas, the government is contributing to that, the spoiling of people’s Christmas, because they’ve brought these strikes on by stopping the companies from making suitable proposals. That’s the position that we’re in and we’ll have to keep this dispute going until we get a reasonable settlement and a reasonable set of proposals that our members want to accept.

“Didn’t you [Good Morning Britain] run a poll on your show last week where two-thirds of the respondents said that they supported the strikes, that’s after we announced them? I saw a poll on YouGov last week that said that the public was still supporting our railway strikes.

“We’ve still got plenty of time before the Christmas Eve strikes if Andrew Haines, the train operating companies, Hugh Merriman the Rail Minister and Mark Harper the Secretary of State, want to come to me with a set of serious proposals to improve their offer so that we can get a settlement to the dispute we’ll come over and see them as soon as possible.

“They’ve already invited me to a set of talks and we’ll attend those to try and get a settlement to this dispute. When our members decide that they want to accept it, that’s when the dispute will be finished.

South Western Railway’s Performance and Planning Director, Steve Tyler, said: “We are very sorry that the RMT overtime ban will severely disrupt our customers’ travel plans throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year.

“While not a strike, the overtime ban limits the number of trains we can get into service each day and we have had to make some difficult decisions to be able to provide a reliable and consistent service throughout the period.

“We are urging customers to check their entire journey before setting off and thank them for their patience and cooperation during this damaging industrial action by the RMT.”

In addition, the RMT has announced that its members at Network Rail and train operating companies including SWR will be taking strike action on January 3, 4, 6, and 7 2023.

 

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