Southern rail strikes set for Christmas and New Year's Eve

Southern train Image copyright Southern
Image caption Commuters have faced several strikes in the long-running row over guards' roles

Southern Railway workers are to stage strikes for three days from 22 December and three days from New Year's Eve.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has announced the strikes as part of the long running dispute over the role of conductors.

Union members will strike from 00:01 on 22 December until 23:59 on Christmas Eve and again from 00:01 on New Year's Eve until 23:59 on 2 January.

A separate 48-hour strike is due to start at 00:01 on Friday.

'Sheer pig-headedness'

Mick Cash, the RMT's general secretary said Southern's owners Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and the government had no interest in resolving the long-running row.

"Yet again the sheer pig-headedness of the company and the government means that our members are being forced to take further industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern Rail," he said.

A spokesman for Southern said: "Not content with causing months of misery, the RMT has now hit a new low and is determined to cancel Christmas for the travelling public.

"These latest strikes will not just hit families wanting to get home for Christmas but also the shops and businesses for whom Christmas is their busiest time.

"These strikes are spiteful, vindictive and pointless given the majority of conductors have now signed up to the new on-board role."

'Better service'

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.

The Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators said jobs and safety were not at risk and changes being adopted by Southern "will give passengers a better service".

The rail minister Paul Maynard said: "It is extremely disappointing that the RMT have announced yet more strikes over the Christmas holidays which will make passengers suffer at a time when they will be travelling to see family and friends.

"The union leaders have continually rejected a deal that means no job cuts and ensures that on-board supervisors will carry on delivering safe, accessible and more reliable rail services."

Earlier, the RMT said backdated holiday pay was being withheld from conductors who take part in strikes.

The union is seeking legal advice over a letter from GTR which says the company 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.

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
  • 00:01 Thursday 22 December to 23:59 Saturday 24 December
  • 00:01 Saturday 31 December to 23:59 Monday 2 January

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