South Western Railway Employees Begin 27 Day Strike
Customers of South Western Railway today are facing the first delays of a 27-day strike on the Network.
The strike comes after talks between South Western Railway and the RMT Union broke down regarding an ongoing dispute over keeping guards on the trains.
SWR said that over 50% of services would run but large queues at stations could be expected as the union carries out this Strike which the operator has branded as "unnecessary", RMT, however, insist that the strike is in the pure "defence of passenger safety", The union also claimed that SWR has refused "point-blank" to show any movement in talks in which the Union has been demanding that guards remain on the trains for door and safety operations. They claimed that the companies proposals would leave guards as nothing more than "glorified porters" with no responsibilities.
Commuter Sophia Griffiths who travels into the mainline terminal, London Waterloo from her hometown of Earlsfield had this to say.
"Usually when they strike the station is not too bad but today was just nuts.
I saw the queue outside and thought 'no way' - I've never seen it that long so I took the bus to Tooting and got the Tube from there."
She shows support for the picket and has called out SWR as crazy for letting it get to this state.
Another Commuter, Charlotte Burnell, said that her 34-minute journey had become just over an hour with all the delays, adding that people have been crammed onto services that are running with dangerous overcrowding a by-product of this,
When asked what he thought, RMT Assistant General Secretary, Steve Hedley, said that members of the union were furious. "Of course our members don't want to lose a month's money running up to Christmas but they're prepared to do that to show that safety and accessibility for disabled people are non-negotiable."
SWR has said that their offers include a Guard on every service.
Andy Mellors, Managing Director said that "Our assessment is that by having drivers opening and closing doors, that will actually optimise the performance of the network by getting more trains to Waterloo on time.
"We've been very clear that we're committed to keeping a guard on our trains and those guards will have safety critical competencies. Our proposals will make guards more customer facing and improve safety, security and accessibility."
With neither party showing any sign of budging, it seems that delays will be catastrophic over the Holiday period and once again, it's the Commuters that are punished.