As Southern Rail staff continue their striking spree, Eastbourne and Willingdon MP, Caroline Asnell has commented:
“I met with transport ministers yesterday evening and made it absolutely clear the strike must be ended at all costs and that we must never be in this situation again. If this means legislation to stop rail strikes in these circumstances then such a move has my full support. Even in union strong France, for example, there is at least a minimum service requirement, for vital services.
“I feel the RMT and Aslef leaders have both abused their power and are at grave risk of discrediting trade unionism – a force that has so often advanced the common good. This is an utterly unnecessary dispute ruining lives. Last week I spoke to an Eastbourne woman who cannot attend her cancer treatment in London because of these stoppages.
“Nightly I speak with people who are upset, angry and at their wits’ ends over months of disruption. What good is there in people losing their job or having to consider moving home? How can Aslef hold the line on safety when they have no objection to the thousands of journeys completed on the network by other operators every day with driver-only operated trains? They say they have the support of the public for this punishing strike action. If ever that were the case, it is no longer and so I have encouraged passengers to write to the RMT and Aslef leadership, urging them to lift this Christmas strike and allow their members to return to work.
“I completely accept strike action is not the only cause of our present rail misery. There are many entrenched weaknesses in the system, in track and signals, and these must be addressed as a matter of urgency pushed by the Department for Transport.
Then there is Southern itself. Some of the performance issues are out of its control, like the major works at London Bridge, but the complete breakdown in its relationships with the unions and its workforce is a disaster and their handling of this dispute has sometimes been dire, one of the lowest moments being the company’s, ‘strike back’ social media campaign. Trust is possibly irrevocably destroyed.”