Sunday, February 28News For London

“Horrific” and “unreasonable” strikes aren’t helping train guards’ cause

(By Claudia Dashwood) Waterloo Station

Whilst the public are calling for an “agreement” or an alternative to striking, many commuters aren’t “clued in” about why the strikes are taking place.

Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT) Union members are striking for the next 20 days over the role and responsibilities of train guards on board.

The RSSB Rail Safety and Standards Board found that between 2010 and 2015, there were more platform safety incidents on conductor only operated trains.

South Western Railway (SWR) trains were subject to more delays due to engineering works this weekend, leaving passengers to face more cancellations in the lead up to Christmas.

The SWR train routes link suburbs and regional areas to the UK’s busiest station London Waterloo.

More than 800 services have been cut and trains will not run after 11pm due to the strike, affecting over 600,000 passengers.

Steven Beavis, 18, said: “Every day I travel from Essex to Surbiton, so it’s like a two and a half hour journey.”

“It messes up with your day a bit, it does. I’m not clued in to what’s been happening, really.”

Beavis said it is a “long time” for people to be striking as teaching strikes only last a few days or so.

“I will move up there next year because I can’t be bothered to do this every day.”

Commuter Claire William now has to take two different trains instead of “one straightforward” train journey with her young toddler.

William, 41, said: “I work for the NHS and I support my principle to not work if I need to [strike] as well.”

“I’m happy for people to withdraw their labour if they are not agreeing with the terms of which they are implied.”

She said “no one” has thought of an alternative method to striking in “100 years”.

However, in Japan bus drivers allow passengers on public transport for free as a way of striking.

Many commuters think the method could be a “great idea” because the “people they are trying to hurt” are the corporate companies rather than the passengers.

Molly, 22, said: “[The company] don’t really care… The passengers who are being affected aren’t directly affecting the corporate apart from complaints.”

“Free tickets, I’m sure, would bother them a lot more.”

Alan, 64, said RMT have a “history of being hard-lined” and “know what they are doing”.

He said: “They’ve chosen this particular point to strike, we’re not naive or stupid about this, they’ve done it for a reason.”

The strike is believed to be a politicised issue as we draw closer to the general election on Thursday.

Many just wish they could come to “an agreement” as the “unreasonable” 27-day strike is affecting many lives, both personal and professional.

In a statement, SWR said they had done “everything” they can “and more” to “meet the RMT’s outdated demands”.

The “improvement to [SWR] service is too important to compromise” RMT’s requests of keeping train guards with a “safety crucial role” on board.

SWR said: “What we are not prepared to compromise on the much needed modernisation of the service with improved performance, safety and customer service that our new fleet of modern suburban trains will vitally deliver for customers.”

RMT strikers are walking out every day of the month, apart from 12 December, and Christmas and Boxing day – when trains typically do not run.

RMT said in a statement: “Parliamentary answers and rail bosses’ reports to investors have revealed that South Western Railway are set to get a taxpayer bailout of £86 million for strike action to date and over the coming weeks to cover lost passenger revenue from the RMT strike action.”

The industrial action is the longest-running strike to date against a major rail operator.

The RMT had strike action earlier this year in November for seven days on the West Midlands railway.

 

Victoria Cappacio and Jie Hu (Vox Pop video editing), Claudia Dashwood (Words), Laura Harman (Editor), Ava Forbes (Informational video).