The company that runs trains in and out of Eastbourne is coming under fire from passengers this morning (3 October).
Southern has taken to Twitter, urging passengers to tweet the RMT Union telling them how they feel about the upcoming strike action. Southern are hoping that the Union will listen to those using the trains and call off the strikes, saying to passengers to use the hashtag #getSouthernbackontrack.
However, Southern’s ‘Let’s Strike Back’ campaign seems to have backfired, with many indeed tweeting the RMT, but outlining their support for the conductors walking out later this month.
#SouthernBackOnTrack dear RMT members please stop striking your just making the company look not to blame and spoiling peoples lives.— Mark Schito (@MarkSchito) October 3, 2016
The dispute over the future of conductors on trains has now been rumbling on for 10 months, with insults hurled on both sides. Southern’s parent company Govia Thamelink Rail wants to introduce driver-only trains, replacing conductors with onboard supervisors. The Union say these supervisors won’t be safety trained and fear it’ll compromise passenger safety, something GTR strong denies.
Today, GTR has also written to the RMT Union offering a lump sum of £2,000 to all conductors once the dispute has been settled. However, the offer comes with a deadline of midday on Thursday (6 October) and must see the Union agree to an eight-point offer put forward in August.
Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said, "Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless and unnecessary dispute and we now need to bring a swift end to these strikes which have caused months of misery for hundreds of thousands of workers, children going to school, family days out and retired people. We have a responsibility to the travelling public and our staff and, after 10 months of dispute, these strikes are plaguing people's lives and enough is enough.
"The union and conductors have had an incredibly fair and comprehensive offer on the table for nearly two months with job security for at least five years, pay increases and overtime guaranteed. Today we are going the extra mile and offering our conductors a lump sum cash payment to be paid just after Christmas when they are getting on with their new roles giving fantastic service to our customers.
"We've given the RMT and our striking conductors a fair, clear and unambiguous plan that we intend to implement if they won’t do a deal. It's an incredibly reasonable offer and the union's arguments about safety and accessibility for disabled passengers are contrived. Independent experts have said that running trains with the driver closing the doors is safe and as a responsible operator we have always looked after customers with disabilities, and always will.
"The RMT needs to understand that this change is happening and we would prefer to work with them to ensure that it's achieved in a way that best protects the interests of our customers, our employees and the business. But no one should be in any doubt that the deadlines are fixed and immutable and we will press ahead if there is no deal by Thursday lunchtime. This dispute has to stop, and stop now."