The long-running Southern Rail dispute over the role of conductors took a fresh turn yesterday after the firm said many staff had ended up signing up for the new “on-board supervisor” role.
Although 96% of conductors responded to Southern’s request for them to take up the new role by last Friday’s deadline, RMT union boss Mick Cash said “nothing has changed”.
The strikes have focused on the on-board supervisor position, which will give drivers the job of closing train doors. Unions claim it could risk safety.
Both sides gave different stories when asked about the sign-ups.
“We’ve now got over 200 conductors signed up… disproving the union’s claims that support is rock solid,” Angie Doll, passenger services director at Southern, told the BBC.
But Cash took a different perspective: “Nothing has changed in terms of the core issues at the heart of this dispute. It’s about basic rail safety and access to transport services for all members of our community.
“That ground has not shifted an inch thanks to the sheer pig-headed attitude of Southern Rail and their government pay masters.
“Our members remain rock solid… and will not be bribed, bullied or beaten. That fight goes on.”
Several strikes are still planned, including one running for the three days to Christmas Eve and one over the New Year.