BREAKING NEWS: Rail unions suspend strikes after offer of direct talks

The RMT and ASLEF have both suspended strike action on Southern Rail after being approached for direct talks with the Secretary of State.

The RMT union has suspended the industrial strike for guards planned for Tuesday, August 1, after the union’s general secretary was invited to meet with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for transport.

A driver strike on Tuesday, August 1, Wednesday, August 2, and Friday, August 4, has also been called off.

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“We instruct the General Secretary to arrange the meeting and to place back before this NEC an update on the progress of the talks by Tuesday, August 1,” a spokesman said.

“RMT will be making no further comment at this stage as we arrange details for the talks and allow them space to take place.”

ASLEF has also accepted an offer to meet with Mr Grayling to discuss a resolution to the Southern Rail dispute.

The union, along with Stephen Lloyd MP and other groups, had called for the Secretary of State to step in.

ASLEF will suspend its planned industrial action, including the overtime ban already in place, in order to allow talks to go ahead.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary, said: “ASLEF is committed to resolving matters as soon as possible while safeguarding the interests of our members, and the safety of passengers particularly those with disabilities.

“We hope talks can start as soon as possible and, ideally, within the week.”