Train guards on Southern in the RMT union are set for further strikes after talks between RMT and Southern bosses collapsed.
Workers are fighting the extension of “Driver Only Operation”, and resisting the de-skilling of the role of the guard, which the union says will have dire consequences for passenger service and safety on what are already some of Britain’s most overcrowded rail routes.
Workers struck on 26 April, and further strikes are planned for 10-11 and 12-13 May. Southern management have conducted an intense campaign of bullying and intimidation against their staff, threatening to withdraw benefits if strikes went ahead and pressuring staff into signing individual no-strike pledges.
An RMT statement said: “Not only have Southern management collapsed the talks process, they have also dished out forms to sign, to give an undertaking that our members will not take part in any further industrial action during this dispute.
“RMT has issued guidance to members that they are under no obligation to sign this form and recommending that they bin it. This is a deliberate attempt to pour fuel on the flames and deflect attention from the core safety issue at the heart of this dispute.
“The form asks members to commit to working extra days, extra hours, working rest days and overtime on strike days. It then goes on to say that members won’t be guaranteed extra work. In effect, that means that they want staff to put on record that they are willing to break the strike, but that they won’t be needed and won’t be paid. [...]
“Southern know that our members are determined to see justice is won in this dispute. Southern management also know that the public are on our side on the fundamental issue at the heart of this dispute which is safe staffing of our railways. Our members have been advised to ignore the threats, ignore the bullying, and ignore the intimidation.
“The union is united nationally behind our members on Southern and determined to win a victory that protects and enhances rail safety.”
Blacklisted workers win
Over 400 trade unionists in the construction industry have secured compensation from major firms and contractors, after a long-running legal battle against blacklisting was settled in workers’ favour out of court.
The workers reached an agreement on Friday 29 April. A further ninety workers involved in ongoing legal proceedings will have their case heard by the High Court on 9 May. The settlement brings the total number of workers who have received compensation for being victims of blacklisting to over 600.
A statement from the Blacklist Support Group said: “Until such time that the full conspiracy is exposed and those responsible for the human rights abuse are called to account in a court of law, we will never stop fighting.”
Ambulance workers to ballot
Ambulance workers across England in Unison, Unite and the GMB are being consulted on taking industrial action over pay and pensions.
Following the last national strike action in the NHS, the final deal called on employers to resolve issues of recruitment and retention and specific difficulties for ambulance staff with raising the retirement age. After 12 months of negotiation nothing has been achieved due to the governments refusal to fund proposals, so unions have agreed to consult. In line with the recent successful dispute in Yorkshire, it looks likely that paramedics in particular will return a positive response which could result in a formal ballot and action.