England

Talks to prevent further Southern rail strikes collapse

Southern train Image copyright Southern
Image caption Southern trains operate in Sussex, Surrey and parts of Kent and Hampshire

Talks to prevent further strikes by Southern rail conductors have collapsed, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has said.

General secretary Mick Cash said the rail operator had "walked out of talks" in a dispute over driver-only trains and the role of conductors.

A 24-hour walkout by union members took place this week and two further strikes have also been announced in May.

The rail operator has confirmed that talks have ended without resolution.

The union has said the dispute is about safety, with the company prepared to axe guards on "some of the most overcrowded and potentially-dangerous services".

'Bin it'

Mr Cash said Southern management had also "dished out forms" asking members not to take part in any further industrial action during this dispute.

He said the union had issued guidance to members that they are under no obligation to sign the form, with a recommendation they "bin it".

"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," he said.

'Snub to commuters'

A spokesman for Southern said the operator had hoped to have "serious constructive talks" but the RMT was "not prepared" to discuss details of the new role.

He said the firm tabled principles on which to move forward but the union "dismissed them out of hand".

"This is a snub to every commuter on the Southern network who now seem condemned to more days of strikes early next month," he said.

"All we are doing is shifting responsibility for closing a train's doors from the conductor to the driver, so the conductor, in their new role of onboard supervisor, can focus on customer service on the train."

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