For months rail passengers have been caught up in a series of strikes in an ongoing dispute between the train operator and its conductors over Southern’s plan to introduce Driver Only Operated (DOO) vehicles.
The Government has previously been criticised for not stepping in and attempting to end the stand off between the company and members of the RMT, Britain’s largest specialist transport union.
Speaking to the Bexhill Observer about his plans for 2017, Huw Merriman revealed that he wanted to see new laws to stop unions calling strikes on safety grounds when the industry regulator has decreed DOO to be safe.
He said the ‘horrendous’ strikes have been ‘crippling’ the local economy.
Mr Merriman said: “My first objective is to see an end to the horrendous Southern rail dispute.
“Presently, the Government does not have the powers to allow Southern to bring about an end to this strike because, as a country, we have generally preserved the right of employees to withdraw their labour.
“However, this strike is crippling our local economy and is not even about jobs and pay, both of which have been guaranteed.
“If a settlement cannot be agreed then I would like to see new laws enacted to end unions calling strikes on ‘safety grounds’ when an industry regulator has decreed the practice of Driver Only Operated trains to be safe as demonstrated by its use on 30 per cent of the UK rail network.
“I have a slot in the House of Commons in February to introduce such a bill.”
Members of the RMT union will be holding further strikes starting on Saturday, December 31 until Monday, January 2.
Members of ASLEF and RMT will also be walking out between Monday, January 9 and Saturday, January 14.
To find out more about forthcoming industrial action on the Southern rail network, visit www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/strike.
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