The RMT’s strikes have caused absolute misery for passengers. For months now the terrible service offered by Southern Rail has meant that people have been late for work, and unable to see their families due to delayed and cancelled trains. But this strike has taken that to a whole new level.
This strike was entirely avoidable and was the result of a vote of just 300 people. That’s 300 causing havoc to the lives of thousands of people. Yet both sides seemed determined to see the strike go ahead regardless of the effect on passengers.
The change which the RMT objects to is a change in responsibility where the operation of train doors will move from the conductors to the drivers. Southern trains have the latest technology which allows drivers to safely operate the doors from the cab.
60% of the GTR network already operates ‘doors operated by drivers’. The RMT claims the move to 100% ‘doors operated by drivers’ will cause safety issues. This is simply untrue as 60% of GTR trains already use driver-operated doors and operate safely. 30% of all national UK trains use driver operated doors.
London Underground has 100% driver operated doors with no problems. Moving the conductors from operating the doors frees them up to assist passengers. These changes will also not result in any job losses or any pay reduction, and every train that currently has two staff (driver and conductor) will continue to have two staff. I have recently met with Mick Cash, the General Secretary of the RMT, to urge him to call off this damaging and unnecessary strike.
I strongly urge both sides to use this opportunity to work out a solution that puts passengers first. Even if no solid agreement can be met elsewhere, both sides need to stop using customers as a bludgeon in negotiations and find other solutions to their dispute.