After a short break on 12 December, the election day, the long-term industrial action over the role of guard continued until 2th January 2020.
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT), which represents South Western Railway union members, and the South Western Railway (SWR) company have argued a long time about the issue: do the train driver or guard should conduct the door and responsible to the platform’s safety? Particularly in next year, new 90 trains would be launched to run.
Johnson, a South Western Railway customer assistant at Waterloo station said to Westminster World: “so it should to have selection, driver or guard, on the peak hour. To be honest, it seems we don’t have enough money, I think the driver need somebody to assist, you know, especially when you stop at the station, you need somebody to actually have an eye on platform, actually make sure the people isn’t in accident, when they getting on, so railway also is responsible for the safe of people.”
The heart of dispute is, the South Western Railway think it is more effective if the train driver to control the door. Consequently it would save time for guard to assist passenger, reduce the delay in timetable. In other words, this would help South Western railway company increase capacity of each train and finally increased profit.
Those issues had triggered a 27 days industrial action in one of busiest commuter line in the country. According to the schedule released by RMT, the industrial action would happen in 2 -11 December, 13th to 24th December, and 27th December to 1st January.
According to SWR company, during union member walk out period, more than 40 percent serviced cancelled, six hundred thousand customer are facing traffic disruption.
Alex Stewart, a video producer said: “ the train strike doesn’t impact me in normally, because although I work in London, I only have to be here 2 or 3 days a week, so it’s not a massive problem for me. The trains still running, so it’s generally fine. I support the right to strike totally, I do think the duration of strike isn’t reasonable, I also understand we’re not privilege to the conversation between the RMT and management and what role the assistant service has , so I don’t know how hard, so yeah they should be allow to strike for condition definitely, but 27 days at this particularly time of year does seem a bit much.”
Although, Johnson, the staff of SWR company said they increased the staff to manage car control, some passengers still complained:
Luke, an IT employee who need to take SWR line from Weymouth to Readings regularly on daily time, said the train strike massively impacted him, “ the servie is very poor, it’s not good. The value of service was not that high, we paid a large of money for this service, striking is pretty poor really. I had to stand about 40 minutes since the train delayed.
Although SWR company promised they would keep and increased 80 additional guard staff, but RMT spokesman call for a formal settlement.