One of the UK’s busiest commuter rail operators, Southern, has been on strike recently and service has been suspended for commuters. There might now be a breakthrough in the dispute. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union recently said it would suspend industrial action by conductors that was planned for the coming days and resume talks with GoviaThameslink, the train operator.
The suspension in service occurred hours after the union announced workers on Eurostar, the country’s high-speed Channel tunnel train service, would be striking throughout the holiday weekends coming up and related to another dispute concerning the role of train staff. The union stated the dispute was related to the operator’s failure to honor the 2008 agreement that ensured train managers would have a “good work-life balance in terms of unsocial hours and duty rosters.”
The union then announced its members of Virgin Train’s East Coast rail had voted in favor of a strike.
The strike of Southern conductors affected the company’s ability to run trains that service south London and Sussex. Since the strike began, the company has been running a timetable offering only 60% of its normal services to commuters. There had already been a spike in conductors’ sickness levels that had forced the company to offer only 80% of its usual services.
Southern has stated it is pleased the union has accepted the offer to resume arbitration talks and is encouraged by the development. A statement by the company said “For our passengers’ sake, we truly hope talks will be productive…”