‘This is a victory for commuters across the South East’ – Eastbourne MP

Mick Cash of the RMT, Stephen Lloyd MP and Mick Whelan of the ASLEF union. SUS-170719-144319001
Mick Cash of the RMT, Stephen Lloyd MP and Mick Whelan of the ASLEF union. SUS-170719-144319001

Planned Southern Rail strikes in early August have been suspended as Chris Grayling has agreed to discuss the dispute with unions, thanks to demand from Eastbourne’s MP Stephen Lloyd.

The MP for Eastbourne joined forces with union leaders to put pressure on Grayling to meet with the unions face-to-face for the first time.

Mr Lloyd said, “This is a victory for commuters across the South East.

“Finally Chris Grayling has agreed to get around the table and talk to the unions to sort out this long-running dispute.”

Mr Llloyd organised a joint press conference yesterday in Westminster with the general secretaries of ASLEF and RMT to convince the transport secretary to meet and discuss the issue.

At the conference, union leaders promised to suspend strike action in early August if the transport secretary agreed to have a meeting.

The move is a major breakthrough in the dispute, as until now the Department for Transport has refused to engage with the unions to reach a settlement.

He said, “Now it’s time to turn this breakthrough into a long-term solution.

“Long-suffering commuters want to see a compromise reached so we can avoid months more chaos and anguish.”

Bradley Rees, co-director of ABC, the Association of British Commuters, said, “This is a very significant moment for our campaign and we welcome the transport minister’s decision to finally step up and do the right things.”

Emily Yates, who co-directs ABC with Mr Rees, said, “What happened today is a direct result of Stephen Lloyd’s bold act of peace-making at the House of Commons.”

Stephen Lloyd said, “I was absolutely clear in my election campaign that I would work tirelessly to end this dispute. There is still work to do but for the first time in well over a year there is light at the end of the tunnel for the many hundreds of thousands of long-suffering rail commuters in Eastbourne and across the South East. I made a promise to Eastbourne and Willingdon that I would make the Southern Rail dispute a priority. The privilege of being elected as the Member of Parliament for Eastbourne means that I have been able to deliver on that promise.”