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UK: Southern Rail: 48-hour strike planned for Sept 7,8

Workers on Southern trains are to stage a 48-hour strike on 7 and 8 September in the continuing dispute over the role of guards, the RMT union has announced.

The union is fighting plans by Southern owner Govia Thameslink (GTR) to turn conductors into “on-board supervisors”, with drivers taking over responsibility for opening and closing carriage doors.

Services have been disrupted for months due to industrial action.

Southern said the action was “unnecessary, unjustified and futile”.

Passenger service director, Alex Foulds, said: “Passengers and staff will once again be appalled by the RMT’s decision to hold yet another strike.

“We are moving forward with our plans for the benefit of customers after nine months of fruitless attempts to reach an agreement.”

Changes to the role of guards were imposed by the company from Sunday.

Mr Foulds added: “We have guaranteed all our onboard staff a job until the end of the franchise, as valued members of our future operation, with no reduction in salary.”

‘Disregard for safety’

The RMT has held a series of one-day strikes since April after balloting 393 members.

Earlier this month, thousands of Southern passengers faced disruption during a five-day strike, which was then suspended after three days to allow fresh talks.

Nearly 1,000 services across the network, which operates from Sussex and Surrey to London, Kent, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire, were cancelled on each of the strike days.

Staff shortages, blamed by the company on high levels of sickness absence, have also resulted in delays and cancellations to trains.

Commuters and other passengers have staged demonstrations to protest at the level of services, with some saying they have had to change their way of working to accommodate the disruption.


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