RMT to ballot South Western Railway workers over strike action

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The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has announced that it will ballot South Western Railway workers for strike action over the role of guards on trains.

FirstGroup and Hong Kong company MTR took over South Western Railway, formally known as South West Trains on 20 August.

The RMT said the failure First MTR to give clear, cast-iron assurances over the future of guards on their trains has now triggered a formal dispute with the company.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said: “RMT has given repeated opportunities for First MTR to give us the assurances we have sought over the future role of the guards on their trains throughout the length of the new South Western franchise.

“They have refused to give us those guarantees and it is that failure which leaves RMT with no option but to declare a formal dispute with the company and to move towards a ballot for action.

“This dispute can be easily resolved if the company are prepared to stick to existing agreements, give staff and passengers alike a guarantee of a second, safety-critical member of staff on all current services and an assurance that safety and access are the absolute priority.

“Guards on SWR have been hailed as “legends” in company publicity material. It is time for First MTR to stand by those legends and to withdraw the threat to throw them off the trains. That is the message that RMT will be taking out to the fare-paying public as we step up our campaign.

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