Norwich MP Chloe Smith claims ‘rail unions do not care about passengers’

PUBLISHED: 12:17 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:59 30 October 2017

Norwich MP Chloe Smith has attacked rail unions over planned strike action.

Norwich MP Chloe Smith has attacked rail unions over planned strike action.

Eliza Boo Photography

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has attacked unions for wanting to take rail travel back in time rather than focussing on progress.

The RMT union has announced a series of strikes across the country with Greater Anglia services set to be hit on November 8 and 9.

The increasingly bitter dispute erupted over plans to introduce driver-operated doors when new trains go live in two years’ time.

The strikes will be co-ordinated across the Southern and South West franchises – and for 24 hours on the Arriva North and Merseyrail franchises.

Conservative MP Ms Smith said: “It is very disappointing that the hardline union is happy to disrupt passengers. The RMT is playing their own political game and don’t seem to care about Norwich people who need to get to work or go about their daily lives.

“Commitments have been given so I think the action is unnecessary and we should all be focused on taking the railway forwards, not backwards.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash prompted controversy last week when the strikes were announced by claiming the dispute was now purely political. He said the row was not with individual firms like Greater Anglia but with the Tory government.

“Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action,” he said.

“RMT is in no doubt that it is the dead hand of the minority Tory government that is interfering in these disputes to block negotiated settlements.

“It is outrageous that prime minister Theresa May and transport secretary Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains.”

Greater Anglia claim there will be no disruption to services on the strike days because other staff have been trained to fill in for those who are walking out. The company has confirmed a full service is planned on both days and conductors’ jobs have been guaranteed until the end of the franchise in 2025.

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