The RMT said SWR “continues to drag its heels” and “trying to mug off staff” with a policy which the union says would see the role of the guard “butchered completely”.
They said an agreement reached in February in which the train firm pledged that each passenger train “shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies” has broken down, with the two sides failing to agree on what the competencies are.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with a further four days of strike action on South Western Railway from Friday.
“The company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up. That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.”
He added: “We have spent most of this year trying to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute.
“It is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been agreed. This has left us with no option but to go ahead with further strike action exactly as planned.”
A spokesperson for SWR said: “It’s extremely disappointing that despite having a date in the diary for what we hoped would be constructive talks held in good faith, the RMT union has somewhat cynically decided to call further disruptive strike action, inflicting misery on our customers and colleagues.
“Only last week, we met with union representatives for the fourth day of talks in the last ten days and were due to meet the general secretary of the RMT the very day before these strikes have now been announced for.”
They added: “We are struggling to comprehend what this endless strike action is really all about. The RMT seems intent on ploughing on full steam ahead with more strikes, showing little regard for our customers or the communities we serve.
“The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement. We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers. We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during strike action.”
How will passengers be affected?
A reduced service will be running on Friday, Saturday and Monday but SWR is still planning its trains service for the Sunday.
Some routes will not have a train service or a replacement bus service.