Support the RMT! Southern Rail rejects offer

The RMT rail strikes starting Tuesday 11 October will go ahead after talks broke down between the union and Southern Rail.

The RMT put forward a fresh set of proposals that could have resolved the ongoing guards’ dispute, but it was rejected by the company.

Proposals would allow for conductors to migrate across to the new role of ‘On Board Supervisor’ (OBS), addressing the main problem at the heart of the dispute.

For an agreed transitional period the OBS role would retain all of the current safety competencies and requirements of the conductor. During the transition period the company and the union would work jointly to:

  • create a new framework of processes and procedures that would retain the second safety critical members of staff on current services;
  • agree a safe and reliable method of train despatch;
  • address the customer service objectives of Southern Rail; and
  • ensure access to services for all.

Not only has the company rejected these proposals, but they have also rejected a union offer to bring the government conciliation service ACAS in immediately to try and close the gap between the two sides. Southern have also confirmed they will now introduce Driver Only Operation (DOO) with 1600 trains a day running without a safety-competent guard by January.

Here’s a summary of each side’s perspectives:

Govia (parent company of Southern Rail) says: Rail unions say:
1 Abolish guards/conductors. Introduce driver-only operated (DOO) trains in Sussex and Surrey. It threatens passenger safety and security. Both driver and guard manage trains: important in emergencies (derailments, fires, passenger illness) especially if the driver is injured.
2 The driver will be expected to drive the train and be responsible for passenger safety. Independent inquiries after train crashes and fatalities consistently say we need on-board staff trained in protection and evacuation procedures.
3 Advances in technology mean DOO trains are safe and have worked elsewhere. Govia wants to save money by shedding staff so rail fat cats can keep making massive profits out of the privatised railway.
4 By reducing train services by 15% passengers will receive a more predictable service and be able to plan journeys better. Despite the ‘emergency timetable’ (350 fewer trains per day) Govia Thameslink performance remains at rock-bottom.
5 It wants to close 84 station ticket offices and reduce opening hours and services at others. It’s unworkable, unsafe and unpopular. Many passengers prefer to buy from a ticket office rather than a machine. Replacing offices with machines or mobile staff will limit the quality and range of passenger services. More jobs will be lost.


No doubt next week’s strikes will be an inconvenience for some people, but please remember this is a strike about your safety as a passenger.

If your employer is putting unreasonable pressure on you to attend work when you have no non-rail travel options open to you and cannot work from home or other buildings, please contact the Branch office for advice and support.