Strike action by Southern conductors will go ahead next week (8-12 August), meaning there will be no trains between Eastbourne and Hastings.
Talks at ACAS between the company and the RMT Union, which represents the conductors, have collapsed after three days. Whilst both sides tabled offers, neither was willing to accept negotiations put forward, which has resulted in no deal being struck.
Passengers now face massive disruption from Monday, with Southern expecting a third of their already reduced emergency timetable to be cut from services. As well as no trains to Hastings, there will also be a limited service between Eastbourne and Brighton.
The strike will greatly impact Airbourne, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town and is worth millions to Eastbourne’s economy.
The dispute over the introduction of driver-only trains, which is due to come into force later this month, will continue until the final hour. Passenger Service Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, Angie Doll said, “We have gone the extra mile with our compromise offer, but the RMT has made it clear they are not prepared to negotiate. They did not want to discuss the role of the On-Board Supervisor and remain rigidly opposed to evolving the role of on- board staff to focus more on customers. We are deeply disappointed and angry on behalf of our passengers at this stance, which will cause misery for our passengers and untold damage to the local economy in the southeast. The RMT’s strike is unnecessary, unacceptable and unjustified.
Meanwhile, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “It was clear right from the start of these talks that there was no serious intent from Govia Thameslink to engage in genuine negotiations and that their script was being written from behind the scenes by their government paymasters. You would have thought they would have taken our arm off when we offered to suspend the action in return for a series of guarantees that simply mirror the proposals from Scotrail just a couple of a few days ago.”
With two other unions balloting Southern workers over strike action, it seems the misery for commuters in Eastbourne could rumble on for months to come.