Southern rail conductors cut number of strike days

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Conductors now plan to walkout on 20 May

Two planned 24-hour strikes by Southern rail conductors in a dispute over role changes and driver-only trains have been replaced with one walkout.

Members of the RMT union went on strike on 26 April and were due to walk out again on 10 and 12 May.

The union, which opposes a new on-board supervisor role and plans for drivers to operate doors, said there would now be one 24-hour strike on 20 May.

Operator Govia Thameslink said there would be no job losses or pay cuts.

Delays between Brighton and Southampton on Wednesday morning were blamed on an "unusually high level of sickness" among train conductors.

Southern Rail said it was "disappointed and frustrated" about the sickness, and warned cancellations were expected to continue through the week.

The company also said it was concerned the threat of further strikes remained.

'Tactics reassessed'

A spokesman said the company believed the RMT had changed the strike dates because its members had objected to three strike days in the same pay period.

He said: "This strike is totally unnecessary. All we are doing is making our staff more accessible."

The RMT has said it is preparing a fresh wave of campaigning, targeted at building public support for its dispute.

General secretary Mick Cash accused the company of adopting a "threatening and abusive" stance towards union members.

He said: "We have reassessed the tactics of the dispute and, recognising the hostile and aggressive stance taken by the company as we fight for the basic principles of rail safety, RMT's executive has decided to switch the next phase of action to May 20."

He added: "Southern should be under no illusions - the union will not bend to their bullying and threats, and we will be building on the huge public support we have already mobilised."

Mr Cash said the union would not allow safety to be "the next thing sacrificed in the dash for fatter and fatter profits".

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