Union at centre of Southern dispute calls for urgent meeting with ministers

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling pictured in May
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling pictured in May

A rail union at the centre of a dispute affecting Southern train services is calling for an urgent meeting with the reappointed Transport Secretary.

Chris Grayling, who was criticised for his handling of the Southern crisis last year, has kept his cabinet post following Prime Minister Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle at the weekend.

The RMT union has been fighting rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway over the introduction of driver-only operation on Southern services, calling numerous strikes since April last year.

Following the election it has called for urgent talks with Mr Grayling over the axing of guards by train companies across the country, the impact of budget cuts in London and to services provided by Network Rail.

General Secretary Mick Cash described how the RMT was ‘sick and tired of ministers ignoring their transport staff’, adding: “Chris Grayling has not lifted a finger to help resolve the guards’ disputes to date

“The idea that this nonsense can continue after last Thursday is ludicrous.”

Changes implemented by GTR, which runs Southern services, mean drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors.

Southern staff have raised safety concerns about the potential loss of a second safety-critical member of staff on trains, with RMT members being transferred from the role of guards to on-board supervisors.

Mr Cash added: “Despite their protests in the past everyone knows that Government ministers have been calling the shots on the axing of the guards on rail franchises like Southern, Northern and Merseyrail.

“With no parliamentary majority to hide behind Chris Grayling should be called to account for his actions and RMT wants urgent.”

He continued: “RMT is demanding that the axing of the guards is reversed and the union will ‎challenge Theresa May and the transport ministers in her minority government every step of the way.”

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