Southern strikes ‘show contempt for the travelling public’, Worthing West’s MP was told during Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday December 7).
The RMT union’s latest three-day walkout began on Tuesday over rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway’s plans to introduce driver-only operation on Southern services.
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has also joined the dispute and is planning several strikes between now and Christmas on top of telling its members to stop working overtime.
The combined actions are expected to cripple the Southern network over the festive period, with passengers already having to endure daily rail chaos for most of 2016.
In the House of Commons today, Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley said: “Perhaps thinking of rail passengers trying to get to their jobs the general secretary of the TUC spoke about shafted and abandoned workers while the Unite union’s Len McCluskey is doing a UKIP dance move resigning and then trying to return.
“Will my right honourable friend encourage union and other political leaders to tell the RMT that 250 people with guaranteed employment should not bring the lives and the jobs and the safety of 600,000 Southern rail passengers at risk?”
Standing in for Prime Minister Theresa May, David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons, replied: “It’s deeply disappointing that some unions are threatening to strike over the Christmas period.
“The Government is now investing record amounts in improving our railways, up to £40bn pounds over the next five years and we need everyone in industry both management and unions to work together to secure the best deal for passengers.
“I have to say that the RMT’s action shows co-ordinated contempt for the travelling public, and it seems designed to do nothing except bring about the maximum damage to people’s lives.
“Mr Speaker there is some heckling from the benches opposite. This party Mr Speaker is on the side of rail passengers and I hope that the party opposite will join me in saying to the rail union leaders: ‘Sort it out, put the travelling public first, stop the squabbling and tell your members to get back to work’.”
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