Southern Railway guards to strike again in staffing dispute

Planned strikes by Southern Rail drivers and guards have been suspended to allow talks with the Transport Secretary in a bid to resolve bitter disputes over staffing and pay

Planned strikes by Southern Rail drivers and guards have been suspended to allow talks with the Transport Secretary in a bid to resolve bitter disputes over staffing and pay

The RMT said it had been contacted by Chris Grayling inviting general secretary Mick Cash to a meeting subject to the suspension of the planned industrial action.

The union has advised its members that industrial action called for 1, 2 and 4 August is suspended.

ASLEF has also accepted an offer to meet with Mr Grayling to discuss a resolution to the Southern Rail dispute.

Both unions are embroiled in a long-running dispute over staffing and driver-only trains.

At a meeting in Westminster, Aslef boss Mick Whelan said the dispute "could go on for an very bad long time, unfortunately", while the RMT's Mick Cash said if transport secretary Chris Grayling was not prepared to talk the row would continue.

ASLEF will suspend its planned industrial action, including the overtime ban already in place, in order to allow talks to go ahead.

He said after 16 months of disruption the South East was reaching a point of "absolute crisis". That's why we think it's time for Chris Grayling to step in and sort it out.

"Any fair-minded observer will see theirs is a positive initiative so I am asking the Government and the train operator, directly, on the general secretaries' behalf and the long-suffering rail passengers: will you agree to meet with both the unions?"

The meeting was organised by Eastbourne Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd who said it was "ridiculous" the dispute, which started in April a year ago, had lasted so long.

He said: "We have been trying for some time now to talk to Chris Grayling. I hope he has the will".

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