Southern asks union to ‘come back to the table to talk’

Southern train SUS-150225-011710001

Southern train SUS-150225-011710001

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Southern bosses have urged unions to ‘come back to the table and talk’ during the second day of this week’s rail strike.

The RMT union started the week-long walkout on Monday (August 6) over Govia Thameslink Railway’s plans to change the role of conductors on many of its services.

Talks broke down on ending the dispute last Friday, but now GTR has urged the RMT to return to the negotiating table.

Charles Horton, chief executive officer at GTR, called their latest offer ‘comprehensive and incredibly fair’, with no compulsory redundancies, no reduction in salary, and no compulsory location moves, and urged the RMT to ‘come back to the table to talk, have constructive and productive discussions on the way forward and shake hands on a deal’.

But RMT general secretary Mick Cash accused the Government of wrecking the talks last week, which could have led to the union calling off strike action.

He argued that there was ‘no serious intent’ by GTR to engage in genuine negotiations, and he would have thought they would have accepted the union’s offer, similar to the one that ended a dispute in Scotland.

Mr Cash said: “I have been involved in countless negotiations and have never witnessed a farce like this.”

Rail passengers have faced months of disruption due to staff shortages since the dispute started over GTR’s plans to make drivers on Southern services responsible for opening and closes the train doors.

The Government has faced repeated calls for GTR to be stripped of its franchise, including from this newspaper.

But in a letter to MPs, rail minister Paul Maynard said: “I do not believe that GTR should simply cave in to pressure from the RMT.

“They are clearly trying to resist logical and necessary changes that will bring benefits for passengers.”

Earlier today Southern’s passenger services director Alex Foulds said: “While the RMT union is hell bent on disrupting our passengers’ lives with this needless strike, we continue to provide the best possible service we can in the circumstances.

“We urge them to call off this wretched strike and sit down and talk with us to end this dispute.”

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