Staff at South Western Railway (SWR) have announced two more strike days during the busy Christmas week.

A 24-hour walk-out had already been confirmed by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union for 22 December in a long-running dispute over proposed changes to the role of guards on trains.

The latest announcement includes two 24-hour strikes between 001 and 2359 on Thursday the 27th and Monday, 31 December.

 The RMT claims SWR “continues to refuse to engage in a serious talks process that could reach an agreement in the long-running guards’ safety dispute”.

The union maintains that its industrial action is not about saving jobs, but is instead intended to ensure “safety, security and access” on the railways, according to RMT general secretary Mick Cash.

Cash commented: “This latest phase of action in the long-running dispute on South Western Railway comes solely as a result of the company’s intransigence when it comes to reaching a negotiated settlement that would underpin the guard guarantee on their trains.

“South Western Railway stubbornly refuse to make any progress at all in resolving this dispute, which is about safety, security and access on South Western Railway. The company are hell bent on opening up a loophole that would allow them to run services driver-only at their discretion.

“Recent figures have shown a shocking surge in violence on our railways across the festive season and it is frankly appalling that South Western Railway are looking for a green light to throw the guard off their trains as and when they see fit in the name of profit.”

SWR has previously said the strikes were ‘unnecessary’, as it had been in talks with unions about the issue.

Staff on Northern Rail are staging strikes on every Saturday for the rest of the year over the same dispute.

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