A strike date for the RMT union is set to be moved to allow for more talks with Southern Rail on April 4.
The union has said members will now strike for 24 hours on Saturday April 8 and action could be suspended if the talks, on the day originally marked for a strike, reach a resolution to the year-long dispute.
Southern Rail had offered talks on April 4 on the condition the union commits to suspending industrial action.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “We now have plenty of breathing space to get talks underway and we would urge the company to seize the opportunity that our decision today has opened up for both parties and the union would prefer for the talks to happen sooner rather than later.
“RMT guards and driver members on Southern have shown incredible strength and resilience throughout the past year and have been clear from the off that this is not a dispute about “who opens the doors” – it is a dispute about a safe method of operation and about the guarantee of that crucial, second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services.
“It is time for that fundamental issue to be addressed at the negotiating table.
“If Southern are prepared to agree to talks on the 4th of April, or sooner, with meaningful proposals on the table that address the issues at the heart of the dispute, the union’s executive would be in a position to consider the suspension of the current planned action.”
The announcement comes after the train operator’s CEO, Charles Horton, wrote to Mr Cash.
He said: “Our passengers, staff and the regional economy want certainty and an end to your industrial action, not a 24 hour truce.
“It’s disappointing that the RMT are now threatening a 31st day of strike action on 4 April.
“Over the past year we have met with the RMT countless times to try and settle your dispute. Unfortunately, each time has ended in disappointment.”
On being asked for a statement today, a spokesperson for Southern Rail said: “We have received no official confirmation from the RMT and will review our response when we do.”
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.