England

RMT to stage fresh 24-hour strike on Southern rail

Southern logo Image copyright EPA
Image caption RMT members on Southern have taken 30 days of strike action over the dispute

RMT members on the Southern rail network are to stage a fresh 24-hour strike in the ongoing dispute over the safety of driver-only operated trains.

Guards and some drivers will take industrial action on Tuesday 4 April in what will be their 31st day of action.

The union said it would reconsider its action if a firm date was given for talks with Southern's parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

General secretary Mick Cash said he was seeking "genuine and serious talks".

A GTR spokesman said it had "not received any correspondence" from the RMT, but "when we do we'll review it and respond".

He added that, as on previous strike days when more than 90% of trains had run, it planned to operate "a comprehensive service again".

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The announcement was made as members of the drivers' union Aslef started voting on a revised deal aimed at resolving their dispute over driver-only trains.

The Aslef deal is being recommended by the union's leadership following talks with GTR, with the result expected on 3 April.

On Thursday, the RMT condemned it as "the old deal in a new envelope", and claimed Aslef members were being "hoodwinked".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The dispute is over the safety impact of the extension of driver-only operated trains and the removal of guards

Mr Cash said it still meant that drivers and passengers had "lost the cast-iron guarantee they once had of a guard on the train which means they will now be more exposed and left vulnerable when something goes wrong".

He said GTR had deliberately negotiated the deal "behind the backs of guards and their union".

He added: "RMT members on Southern rail have been fighting for safety and access for nearly a year now and it is disgraceful that we have continued to be carved out of the talks process.

"This dispute needs to be pushed forwards and RMT would be prepared to reconsider our action if we get a commitment to a firm date for genuine and meaningful talks."

He said all parties "should be at the negotiating table" and that the RMT's "continued exclusion" meant the union had "no option but to press ahead with further industrial action".

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