13 December 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT and ASLEF drivers shoulder to shoulder in fight for safe train operation.
General Secretary Mick Cash said;
"RMT drivers on Southern Rail are standing shoulder to shoulder with their ASLEF colleagues this morning in a fight for safe train operation. This strike action is wholly the responsibility of a Government and a company that have sought to bulldoze through changes that are ill-conceived, finance-led and fraught with danger.
"RMT remembers only too well the words of top Government transport official Peter Wilkinson who told Southern passengers he wanted a punch-up with the unions, that train drivers were muppets and that he would starve our members back to work.
"That was the top Government rail official making it clear he was hell bent on confrontation and it is that position which has led us to today's shutdown.
"This morning Chris Grayling claimed again that the action on Southern is political - it isn't, it's about safe train operation for both passengers and staff alike. The Transport Secretary wants to ask himself why the unions have been able to resolve disputes and reach agreements on Scotrail and elsewhere if our motivation is purely political.
"Mr Grayling also claimed again that the RSSB is an independent safety body - it isn't, it's funded by the private train companies.
"Finally, Mr Grayling claimed that there is a campaign of unofficial action organised by the unions - there isn't, and the evidence points to Southern sabotaging services to try and turn the blame onto the staff."
"Now is the time for Chris Grayling to make it clear that all of that rhetoric and misinformation is being swept away and that both him and his contractors, GTR, are serious about talks with the union's involved in today's action."