For ‘Trainline’ – read ‘management line’!

26 March 2008

The union has been contacted by people outraged at ‘Trainline’ poking its unwanted nose into industrial relations. This ticket sale website issued an anti-union account of the position at South West Trains to all people who had registered with them – and it seems to have angered a good number of customers as a result!


The account sent out by these salespeople as ‘information’ correctly states the four strike dates - March 31, April 1, 2 and 3 – but then goes on to say that ‘although the union is claiming that negotiations are still taking place, however we question in that case why a ballot for strike action was held and a notification of industrial action letter sent’.


The fact – as opposed to the Trainline spin – is that negotiations are going on. They are going on today. It is not a ‘union claim’. It is a fact.


Secondly, it is reasonable that an industrial relations ballot should be held at the same time as talks are being held. The short answer why this should be is ‘Margaret Thatcher’! She introduced legislation that means a union has effectively to delay taking industrial action for six weeks after notice of intent to strike is given to an employer. This drives unions to ballot early if it suspects it is dealing with a management not prepared to negotiate.

Thirdly, the ‘Trainline’ offers – unsought - details to customers on the days of the strike and contains a personal message from SWT’s managing director. He says he’d like to ‘reassure’ his customers that ‘we will do everything we can to avoid this strike taking place’. Maybe denying that negotiations are taking place would be a start!


The Trainline did not seek any comment from ASLEF before issuing its unsolicited junk email.

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