Efforts made to avert rail strike

I am writing in my capacity as Chair of Hastings & District Trades Union Council to express our dismay at your report in the Friday 05/08/16 edition about the industrial action on Southern Rail services which commenced the following Monday.

It is unacceptable for an independent local newspaper to simply wheel out the two local Conservative MPs for a spot of union-bashing without offering its readers the opportunity to hear from both sides involved in a dispute in order to provide balance for their deliberations. The RMT Hastings Branch is affiliated to the TUC and comment could, and should, have been sought from either of these organisations.

We wish to place on record, therefore, the efforts made by our affiliated RMT members locally, and indeed, nationally to avert industrial action in this ongoing dispute which relates to the safety-critical role of the guard on the train.

At all times the RMT has been willing to sit round the table with GTR/Southern Rail to achieve a negotiated settlement in the best interests of all, but these ‘bona fide’ efforts have met with complete intransigence by the employer. Indeed, an agreement reached between RMT and Scotrail on the same issue which averted industrial action was put to and rejected by GTR/Southern Rail.

The RMT/Scotrail negotiated settlement contains three joint heads of agreement;-

1)Scotrail guaranteed that there will be a conductor on every train.

2)Scotrail guaranteed that the conductor will retain their full competency (ie rules, track safety, evacuation).

3)Scotrail confirmed that trains operating these services will not run without a competent conductor on board.

Additionally, RMT/Scotrail are continuing to negotiate a method of train despatch for these services which, when finalised, will be adopted for Abellio Scotrail franchise and will apply beyond.

The above agreement, which would have averted industrial action, was rejected by GTR/Scotrail in talks brokered by ACAS.

Little wonder really, then, that the vast majority of UK citizens support the restoration of a fully publicly-owned rail service where passengers are put before private shareholders profits and, where industry-wide agreements achieved through collective bargaining prevent regional disputes with different franchise holders which culminate in industrial action such as we have seen in this instance.

Derek Hansford

Chairman

Hastings & District

Trades Union Council

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