In the eye of the storm

01 January 2017

They say it’s peaceful at the eye of the storm but, let me assure you, it’s not. You quickly learn that the media,the government, and some of the public don’t care about the real issues. The media, with one or two interesting exclusions, pander to the rhetoric about nasty unions hurting working people. I am yet to hear many people defend us for standing up not for gain, but for safety, on GTR Southern. And where is the public outcry for 1,116 freight train drivers facing uncertainty at DBC after years of loyal service?

The government has chosen not to intervene or investigate the issues that may put the viability of our infrastructure at risk and I do not hear a lot from the appropriate industry quangos. As for GTR Southern, having employed them to do their dirty work, and caused all the issues that face us, the government attacks our right to strike; something we never do lightly or without family, and personal, cost. They’re getting desperate when they claim we are seeking to bring down the Tories; we are simply reacting to issues not of our making. Apparently we have a pact with sister trade unions; we do not, we have a joint campaign and are not even both affiliated to the same political party and, of course, compete with them in several areas.

We understand that passengers, paying inflated fares for a service that was crap before any action was taken, are naturally upset. Evidence of full crews sitting around while trains are cancelled makes you wonder what the company is up to. But we are receiving far more messages of support and 73% of the public want a guard on every train.

I am never surprised at the solidarity and unity you are showing at this difficult time. The constant drip feed of lies that we are refusing meetings, or of offers being made, and of course taking us to court, is all designed to undermine that. Offers to meet if we suspend or cancel action are not genuine; going to ACAS to be told ‘let us complete what we are doing and then we can talk about how we normalise relationships’ is not an offer, and you would rightly castigate us if we pursued either of those avenues. This is not about DOO, but dwell times, and is a scenario likely to be repeated in other franchises in coming years.

Despite our challenges, may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

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