England

Southern rail strike brought forward due to 'abusive behaviour'

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Operator Govia Thameslink said there would be no job losses

A planned 24-hour strike by Southern rail conductors has been brought forward.

The strike was due to take place on Friday 20 May but will now take place two days earlier.

The RMT union said the date change was in response to the "threatening and abusive stance" the company was adopting towards union members.

Operator Govia Thameslink said the move was a "cynical ploy" by RMT's leadership.

The union, which went on strike on 26 April, opposes a new on-board supervisor role and plans for drivers to operate doors.

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

'Hostile and aggressive'

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The union has once again 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."

He said staff had been given until 20 May to sign up to the company plans "regardless of the impact on jobs, working conditions and safety".

He added: "Southern GTR should be under no illusions, the union will not bend to their bullying and threats."

In response a Govia Thameslink spokesman said the strike date was moved to "maximise disruption" for passengers.

He said: "This action is completely unnecessary - there's a job for everyone who wants one and no-one will have a cut in salary. The only difference is that conductors will no longer close a train's doors.

"We totally refute the RMT's groundless allegations.

"The refusal of the RMT union to negotiate has left us with no option but to press on with our plans to evolve the role of the conductor on many of our services."

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