Government ministers must meet rail unions to negotiate an end to the Southern dispute, Eastbourne’s MP has urged.
The RMT union, which has been fighting Govia Thameslink Railway over the introduction of driver-only operation for more than a year, has organised three days of strikes for the firs week of August.
Meanwhile train drivers’ union ASLEF has instituted a ban on overtime working and is also due to hold walkouts on the same days as the RMT in a separate dispute over pay.
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd will be joined in Westminster by the general secretaries of both ASLEF and the RMT today (Tuesday July 18), where he will call on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to meet union leaders to find a way to end the dispute.
He claims the Department for Transport has so far not engaged with the rail unions directly to negotiate a settlement, a point which he raised with Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this month.
Mr Lloyd said: “It is ridiculous this dispute has gone on for so long, causing so much anguish to so many thousands of my constituents in Eastbourne and many hundreds of thousands of rail users across the South East and beyond.
“So I am calling on ministers and GTR to meet with ASLEF and the RMT immediately to resolve this dispute. Now is the time for Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport to step in and assist in finding a resolution to a problem they caused.
“I will be joined today in Westminster by the general secretaries from each of the trade unions involved, Mr Whelan from ASLEF and Mr Cash from the RMT.
“They have confirmed that they are determined to end this dispute and are ready and willing to sit down with the Dft and GTR, with no pre-conditions, to negotiate a bilateral agreement as soon as possible.
“Any fair-minded observer will see theirs is a positive initiative so I am asking the Government and the train operator, directly, on the general secretaries’ behalf and the long-suffering rail passengers: will you agree to meet with both the unions?
“Is the Secretary of State Chris Grayling MP ready to move forward on their offer? I hope so, because if he is not then it will be obvious the government is not interested in resolving the industrial action, and we can all judge accordingly.”
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