Morning Star | 18 October, 2016
SOUTHERN Rail was accused yesterday of trying to bribe staff by offering them cash to stop striking in defence of safety.
Since April members of the RMT rail union have been resisting Southern’s move to remove guards from trains to boost profits with industrial action, including a series of strikes.
Talks between RMT and Southern Rail have again broken down after the company regurgitated a proposal to give staff a £2,000 one-off payment to settle the dispute.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the company had failed to make any proposals to guarantee safety if guards were removed.
He said: “There is no offer whatsoever to start engaging in serious talks about the safety and access issues at the heart of this matter.
“Instead, Southern have rehashed the £2,000 bribe to our members, even though the company have been told repeatedly that money is not the issue and that the safety of passengers and staff is not for sale.”
He said the strike remained “rock solid” and accused Southern Rail of producing “bogus figures” about the numbers working during strike action.
Mr Cash backed a report from the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) stating that removing guards and de-staffing stations would mean people with mobility difficulties might be unable to travel if no assistance was available. The NPC said this would be discriminatory — and illegal under the Equality Act of 2010.
People with disabilities reported on the problems they faced while trying to travel by rail. “The overwhelming case against Southern Rail’s assault on safety and access to services is reinforced by the personal experiences of older and disabled passengers which are exposed by the National Pensioners’ Convention,” said Mr Cash.
“It is simply outrageous that members of our community will be effectively barred from Southern Rail through the removal of guards. That is a flagrant breach of the Equality Act.”
Southern boss Charles Horton said: “There is a full and fair offer on the table and it’s time to stop the strikes and move forward.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the rail industry’s clerical and white-collar union TSSA, repeated his call yesterday for renationalisation of the railways.
He was speaking in advance of an appearance before Parliament’s transport select committee.