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RMT calls on Grayling to urgently intervene in Southern dispute

The RMT has put further pressure on transport secretary Chris Grayling today as it penned an open letter calling for “urgent intervention” in its dispute with Southern.

Back in June, the RMT called for talks to be held as Grayling was reappointed into the Cabinet following the general election, but since then there has been no progress in bringing the three parties together.

It also follows GTR, the parent company of Southern, making offers to the union on Monday guaranteeing staffing and job security, as well as exceptional circumstances when trains would run without a second member of staff.

All of these measures were rejected by the RMT, who, according to GTR, were unwilling to discuss any of these things.

The letter from RMT general secretary Mick Cash to Grayling accused GTR of “deliberately misrepresenting” the union’s position.

“This development clearly reinforces my call yesterday for all sides to now meet together, around the same table, to see if we can jointly find a resolution to this dispute,” it said.

“Southern Rail are spinning lines which are a complete misrepresentation of the facts,” Cash added. “RMT attended talks with the company on Monday at the request of Chris Grayling and we set out a package of proposals for serious discussion that could have cleared the log-jam and paved the way for a solution to this long-running dispute.

“It was the company that knocked back our proposals flat and it is the company that are now selling the message that as far as they are concerned the talks process is over.”

But a spokesperson for GTR told RTM that the union had not come up with any new proposals to bring the bitter conflict to an end in Monday’s talks, and were unwilling to explore any aspects of the various offers that have been made to settle their dispute.

“Modernisation is urgently required to futureproof our railway,” they said. “Alongside investment in better infrastructure and new trains, this includes transforming working practices.

“We hope the RMT will get on board with these essential improvements to give our passengers the service they deserve.”

A DfT spokesman added that the government was doing everything it could to resolve the situation on Southern and get passengers the high-quality rail services that they deserved.

“We held constructive meetings with both Aslef and the RMT unions, which paved the way for GTR and the unions to restart their negotiations,” they explained. “We hope their discussions can bring an end to this dispute.”

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Lutz   10/08/2017 at 06:06

It is ridiculous for RMT to be calling for the Government to intervene; the relationship is between the RMY and GTR. If they feel they are not progressing in the negotiations with GTR they should tale the matter to ACAS and thence to the Courts. Meanwhile GTR should start sacking people, and bankrupting the RMT through legal action.

J, Leicester   10/08/2017 at 08:54

Careful what you wish for, RMT - he'll just rip up your contracts and replace you with bi-mode conductors that do your jobs more slowly.

Mikeb   10/08/2017 at 20:46

@Lutz. GTR is not strictly a franchise but a management contract in which the fare income does not go to GTR but they receive a government fee for operating the services. So GTR carries less revenue risk than in a normal rail franchise and they are basically doing the bidding of the government. The DfT has been interfering in the running of GTR since it's inception and should therefore not wash it's hands of this dispute.

BB   11/08/2017 at 15:16

The RMT have no traction in this dispute anymore. When they go on strike now nearly the entire Southern network runs a full timetable. They are refusing to move on the principle that every train for ever more will always have two members of staff, even in extraordinary circumstances which would otherwise see train cancellations. RMT want "all parties" round the table as they now have to rely on the ASLEF drivers to exert pressure. When ASLEF go on strike everyone takes notice.

SWB   11/08/2017 at 18:22

It seems like RMT's leadership is getting more and more desperate. Its strikes have little effect now so RMT must rely on another union, and Mr. Grayling it would seem, to do its heavy lifting. It's simultaneously laughable and sad.

Jerry Alderson   12/08/2017 at 10:17

SWB wrote "It seems like RMT's leadership is getting more and more desperate. Its strikes have little effect now so RMT must rely on another union." Indeed. Everyone saw this coming a year ago. RMT should have negotiated a positive solution early on. RMT members switching from being a conductor to an OBS have nothing to lose in the short to medium term. With no ability to cancel services through a strike they can say goodbye to above-inflation pay rises every single year, but frankly the railway is one of few industries that offers that and it is unsustainable from both a farepayer and taxpayer perspective.

BB   14/08/2017 at 09:42

I'm not an industry insider but my understanding is also that all the RMT OBS staff signed new contracts in 2016 and moved to the new working practices in January 2017. So as far as the OBS roles are concerned, the changes have already gone through and the staff have signed contracts which presumably means they have accepted the new conditions. And yet they strike ...

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