‘Disgraceful’ franchise threatens to punish strikers
BULLYING Southern Rail bosses’ union-busting tactics were branded disgraceful yesterday after they threatened to punish staff for taking lawful strike action.
A letter seen by the Star was sent to workers last week warning them that they face “individual sanctions” if they take part in any further action called by the RMT.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash blasted the letter as “disgusting dirty tricks,” accusing Southern Rail of “threats, bullying and intimidation” as the failing outfit puts profit ahead of public safety.
The union is set for a 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday in the bitter and long-running dispute over the removal of safety-critical guards, who are represented by the RMT, from trains.
Last week train drivers’ union Aslef members rejected a deal with Southern brokered by the TUC that had been branded a “scabs’ charter.”
Southern bosses have escalated attempts to undermine the strike, with the RMT accuse them of launching “a campaign of threats” instead of engaging in serious talks.
The beleaguered firm has posted some of the worst service performances since records began, prompting calls for it to be stripped of the franchise and to be returned to public hands.
Astonishingly, the letter seeks to blame the union for “causing immeasurable damage to our passengers, the regional economy and the reputation of our industry as a whole.”
In a shocking bid to break the strike the letter goes on to praise scabs for crossing picket lines, urging more workers to “consider doing so this time.”
Southern’s passenger services director Angie Doll’s letter claimed that “in recent weeks we have seen significantly better levels of performance.”
This is despite the latest figures showing that more than a quarter of Southern owner Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) trains failed to arrive on time, the worst performance for over a decade.
Ms Doll’s letter also threatened workers by stating “that taking part in strike action will put you in breach of contract.
“Furthermore we will consider applying additional individual sanctions should RMT call further action in which you participate.”
She claimed: “It is clear that our plans have not been about cutting jobs. Strike action has achieved nothing in respect of stopping the changes we have made.”
And in a warning to workers the letter concluded: “I would urge you to think very carefully in making your decision to strike next week.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash hit back saying: “Instead of getting back into serious talks, Southern Rail have gone back to a campaign of threats, bullying and intimidation of their staff, who are doing nothing more than standing up for passenger safety. It is disgraceful behaviour.
“RMT’s action remains on and we will not bend to these kind of disgusting dirty tricks from a company that puts private profit before public safety.”
A GTR spokesman told the Star: “This is a letter from employer to employee urging them to stop this pointless strike and to stop the misery and disruption their action is having on the hard-working travelling public and the regional economy.”
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