ASLEF response to Grayling

12 December 2016

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, spoke out this afternoon after claims made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, in a letter released by the DfT.

‘The Transport Secretary is being less than honest on all counts,’ said Mick.‘Earlier this year Peter Wilkinson, the £265,000 a year director of rail passenger services, said on a public platform that the aim of the DfT is to force train drivers – men and women he derisively referred to as ‘muppets’ –‘out of my industry.’ Mr Wilkinson said he was determined to provoke industrial confrontation and, indeed, was looking forward to ‘punch ups’ with trade unions. The strikes this week are not, whatever Mr Grayling tries to suggest,politically motivated. We have a trade dispute with GTR / Southern, and only a poor government would seek to spin it any other way. I think their motives are clear.’

Mick added: ‘The Transport Secretary is also being less than honest – and utterly selective – about a private meeting I had with him held, in good faith, under Chatham House rules. We said there could potentially be issues, in the future,on GTR/Southern following his refusal to entertain the serious safety concerns we raised and given the complete breakdown in trust between the union and the company.That loss of trust now extends to Mr Grayling and the government of which he is a part.

‘I am not sure how Mr Grayling has been made party to private and confidential conversations that took place but, in the interest of fairness, he might have said that we were willing to go to ACAS last week but GTR Southern refused because they wanted to go to court. These conversations finished yesterday evening and,logistically, could not have been concluded before we had to meet with our legal teams and was not a genuine offer.

‘I am more concerned, than either the minister or the company, about the safety of our members and the travelling public, but today we will find out whether a fully or partly-owned foreign company can deny British workers the right to strike.

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