RMT advises Southern conductors to 'sign new contracts'

Passengers on platform Image copyright EPA
Image caption Staff shortages and industrial action have caused months of disruption on the Southern network

Staff striking in a long-running dispute with Southern over the role of conductors have been advised to accept new contracts by union bosses.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) said there was "no climb down" but it was their duty to protect staff against mass sackings.

It said it would seek to overturn the new contracts and planned industrial action would still go ahead.

Southern Rail welcomed the news that the union "had seen sense".

The rail operator and union have been embroiled in a dispute over plans to allow drivers to open and close train doors.

The RMT had argued the plans would affect passengers' safety.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "There is no climb down. We have a duty to issue our members with clear legal advice that protects their position in the teeth of the threat of mass sackings.

"That is what we have done."

'Lost them £2,000'

Conductors were told they would be sacked at the end of the year if they did not accept the new roles.

The rail company said the new on-board supervisor positions would be guaranteed until 2021 with no loss of pay or overtime.

Southern had offered conductors £2,000 if they accepted the new contracts by 6 October.

Charles Horton, CEO of parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, said: "It is welcome that the RMT has finally seen sense.

"They reject an offer one day, tell conductors to sign up to the role the next.

"Their own union has lost them each a £2,000 bonus which was on offer last Thursday only to tell them to sign-up 24 hours later."

Strike dates announced by the RMT:

  • 00:01 Tuesday 11 October to 23:59 Thursday 13 October
  • 00:01 Tuesday 18 October to 23:59 Thursday 20 October
  • 00:01 Thursday 3 November to 23:59 Saturday 5 November
  • 00:01 Tuesday 22 November to 23:59 Wednesday 23 November
  • 00:01 Tuesday 6 December to 23:59 Thursday 8 December

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