9 August 2016
RMT Press Office
RMT protest at Department for Transport over sabotage of talks in Southern dispute
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that it will be protesting at the Department for Transport tomorrow demanding that the Government lift their blockade on a peace deal in the Southern guards dispute that mirrors the offer on Scotrail – an offer that enabled the union to suspend all industrial action in that dispute.
The protest will be at the DfT London HQ – 33 Horseferry Road, SW1 at 8am on Wednesday 10th August.
The union says that in talks at ACAS on Friday negotiators were within an inch of making progress towards a deal that mirrored the offer of Scotrail when the plug was suddenly pulled. The union has it on good authority from sources within the industry that the deal, which the union says was there to be done, was sabotaged by top DfT official Peter Wilkinson. Wilkinson was the man who back in February boasted in a Tory Party meeting that he was after a “punch up” with the unions on Southern and who bragged about how he intended to starve workers fighting for rail safety back to work.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
“RMT can confirm that we were within an inch of making progress towards boxing off a deal with Southern in ACAS talks on Friday afternoon that was based on the offer from Scotrail, an offer that enabled us to suspend all industrial action in the Scotrail guards dispute. We were just getting into the detailed wording when suddenly the plug was pulled and our legs were kicked from under us. We have it on good authority that the deal, which would have enabled us to suspend the Southern strike action this week, was sabotaged by the Government with their Director of Rail Peter Wilkinson directing operations from outside the talks.
“We are now taking our protest direct to the DfT. We want the Government to stop weaponising the Southern dispute for political purposes and we want them to stop treating passengers and staff as collateral damage in a war that Peter Wilkinson has unilaterally declared on the rail unions.
“The government need to lift the blockade on the peace talks and allow us to get back to normal industrial relations and serious and meaningful talks with the company. If it’s good enough for Scotland it should be good enough for the rest of the UK as well.”