The business community in Eastbourne is welcoming fresh talks between Southern and the RMT.
It’s hoped discussions will be held this week to try and find an end to the long-running dispute over the introduction of driver-only trains the role of conductors.
Christina Ewbank, Facilitator for the Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex said, “We are delighted to hear that Southern Rail and the RMT are resuming talks this week. We are desperate for a full return to normal service, however, once the dispute is over, we need to see significant improvements from Southern Rail in reliability and customer service. For this reason, we will keep up our pressure on their parent company Go-Ahead Group Plc.”
Last week a deal was struck between Southern and the ASLEF union. The agreement has since been condemned by the RMT as a 'betrayal of safety and the conductor grade'.
General Secretary Mick Cash said, "This so-called agreement is a shocking and historical betrayal presided over by the TUC of not only the conductor grade and drivers, but also passengers, including disabled passengers, who have lost the guarantee of a second member of staff on their trains.
"This abysmal document lists a whole host of areas where a a train can leave without a second member of staff that will leave both the driver and passengers exposed and vulnerable and which also represents a thin end of the wedge that will lead to the de-staffing of trains.
"Loyal and dedicated conductors, who have fought for safety for over a year have had the legs kicked from under them by those who are supposed to be on their side. Passengers and staff alike have been sold out by a stitch up cooked up in Congress House by the TUC and the bosses whilst Southern, one of the most anti-union and hated companies of recent times, is laughing all the way to the bank and have been given a free run to rip up the safety rule book in the name of profits.
"This is not a deal it is a disgrace and the RMT dispute remains on and we will fight this shocking betrayal with every tool at our disposal.
"We remain available for talks "
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex have also written open letters to investors of Southern's parent company, Go-Ahead Group Plc, calling on them to think again, as to whether they want to be associated with the brand.