Strikes on Southern Rail cancelled
Members of the Association of British Commuters joined Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce boss, Christina Ewbank, at Stephen Lloyd MP’s press conference in Parliament yesterday; to raise a call for urgent DfT intervention before the next round of drivers’ strikes hits the south. The Department for Transport has today agreed to talks, and both unions will now call off strike action to allow the first ever face-to-face negotiations to take place.
The RMT and ASLEF unions have today confirmed that this will suspend planned strikes in the first week of August after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling agreed to talks with the unions with a view to ending the dispute.
The announcement follows a meeting in Westminster on Tuesday (18/07/2017), chaired by Stephen Lloyd MP and attended by the union leaders, Mick Cash of the RMT and Mick Whelan of ASLEF. Christina Ewbank, Chief Executive of Eastbourne unLtd Chamber of Commerce, representing the Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex and ABC Commuters also attended.
At the meeting, both General Secretaries made it clear that they were willing to suspend the strikes, planned for August, if talks were agreed to.
Stephen then called on Chris Grayling to, “pick up the phone.”
The Transport Secretary made contact with the unions and the agreement was struck this afternoon.
Stephen said "This is a significant outcome. Proper talks can now take place with the precise aim of bringing the dispute to an end. I want to thank Mick Cash and Mick Whelan for their attendance at the meeting on Tuesday and their willingness to work towards a solution to the Southern Rail dispute that will see an end to the unacceptable disruption caused to commuters in Eastbourne and across the South East. I also want to thank Chris Grayling, although it has been a long time coming, for taking up my call to meet the union leaders face-to-face. He’s now listened and has offered to meet with them. The unions have agreed, subject to the meeting happening within seven days. It was obvious to me that the refusal of the Government to meet with the unions was stopping any real progress and that both sides, the train company and the unions, were utterly logjammed. 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"
Christina Ewbank, Chief Executive of the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, the largest town based Chamber in the South East said “This is a huge step in the right direction. Let’s hope that now GTR, the Department of Transport and Unions are meeting together they can agree a compromise and get Southern working again”
Bradley Rees - ABC co-director, non-practising barrister and software developer, 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 thing. We now need complete public scrutiny of what happens next – and this is exactly the reason we have published the full video of Stephen Lloyd’s press conference yesterday on our YouTube channel - to demonstrate what reasonable dialogue looks like. The resolution of this dispute is now in the Transport Minister’s hands and it is vital that he brings this 16-month industrial dispute to a close before it spreads around the entire country."
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