Strike-hit rail firm Southern in RMT holiday pay row

Commuters boarding train during a strike Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Commuters have faced several strikes in the long-running row over guards' roles

Backdated holiday pay is being withheld from conductors on Southern rail if they take part in strikes, according to a letter sent to the RMT union.

The RMT is seeking legal advice over the letter, which was from Southern's parent firm Govia Thameslink (GTR).

It says GTR will withhold pay unless conductors have worked or will work normally during the dispute.

"We feel we cannot make these payments to conductors who are currently taking industrial action," the rail firm said.

RMT members are due to begin a 48-hour strike on the Southern network from midnight, in a dispute over the introduction of driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

Image caption The letter from Govia Thameslink was sent to RMT union reps

The letter says: "As the dispute over conductors and DOO is ongoing and your members continue to breach their contracts by taking strike action, thereby causing significant loss to the business and disruption to our customers, we will (without prejudice to our rights) withhold payment of any backdated holiday pay from conductors.

"Any conductors who have either worked normally during the dispute, or confirm that they will now work normally during the remainder of the dispute and will not participate in further industrial action, will receive payment...

"Failing that, GTR intends to make the appropriate payment to employees of this grade in the pay run on 30 December 2016, subject to the current dispute being concluded and no further strike dates being called."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said Southern had made the dispute "personal against their own staff" and added: "They have declared war on their passengers and staff alike."

He said the letter was sent to the union for the RMT to forward it to members.

A Southern spokesman said passengers had faced 15 days of strikes which had caused "misery and hardship", and there were seven more to come.

He said the strikes had made calculations of what pay is owed more complicated and added: "We plan to pay them once the industrial action is over."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RMT has planned a 48-hour strike to start at midnight

RMT strike dates:

  • 00:01 Friday 4 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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