Southern Railway conductors have been told they will lose £268 each shift if they take part in strike action starting tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26).
The 24-hour strike, which will last until 10.59am on Wednesday (April 27), comes as Southern looks to replace its conductors with on-board supervisors – a new role with fewer safety responsibilities.
In a letter sent to all Southern conductors on Friday (April 22), Charles Horton CEO at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) urged employees not to take strike action.
He said, “Please understand that taking strike action is pointless. GTR will not change its plans or proposals because of this. The RMT’s demands cannot be met and the only people who will suffer will be our Southern passengers (who will be disrupted) and colleagues (who will lose pay and benefits).
“So taking strike action will achieve nothing, but it will cost you and your family substantial sums should you strike. A sum of £268 will be withheld (this is two days average base salary, for each shift you participate in strike action).
“This is money you will not recover and when the RMT eventually try and settle the dispute, please be assured that GTR will not recompense you or waive any of the conditions covered later in this letter.”
The letter goes on to criticise the timing of the strike action and says the company will be rescinding striking employees parking permits and family travel passes throughout the dispute.
In response to Mr Horton’s letter, RMT general secretary Mick Cash wrote to union members this weekend.
He said, “You will by now have received a very threatening letter from Charles Horton, the Chief Executive Officer, and I can honestly say that I have never seen such a disgraceful communication.
“I’m afraid it just proves how little the company think of its staff. Also ensuring you receive it on the weekend of the London Marathon, when Southern expect you to go the extra mile in assisting passengers, is just deplorable.
“You have voted in a democratic ballot. The result was absolutely magnificent both in the numbers voting and those voting ‘yes’. This in itself should be reason enough for the company to re-address the issues and ensure your grade is retained and your hard earned terms, conditions and responsibilities protected.”
Mr Cash also criticised moves to take away family travel passes and added that he was seeking legal advice on the pay deductions.
Speaking on Monday (April 25) a GTR spokesman said, “This strike will be massively damaging for both our passengers and for our business. Taking part in the strike comes with consequences and we are simply setting out what those consequences will be.
“We hope that those who are thinking of taking part in the strike will think again and report for work, saving our passengers the misery of strike action.”
Last week Southern said it will cancel many of its services during the strike action with disruption expected on its remaining services.
A full list of the affected services can be found on www.southernrailway.com
Two further strikes are expected to take place from 11am on Tuesday, May 10, to 10.59am on Wednesday, May 11, and from 11am on Thursday, May 12, to 10.59am on Friday, May 13.
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