East Midlands Trains and ASLEF in war of words over rail strikes ahead of crunch meeting

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A BITTER war of words has erupted between rail chiefs and a union after further strike action was announced for East Midlands Train services.

The union ASLEF last week anounced plans for further one day strikes on Saturday, June 23, and Monday, June 25.

The news comes just weeks after Skegness and Wainfleet were badly affected by a series of one-day strikes - during which no rail services or replacement buses operated between Skegness and Boston.

The company’s decision not to provide any link to one of the UK’s busiest coastal resorts drew criticism from many in the local tourism industry.

It is unknown if the latest strikes will have as severe an impact on services.

But with one falling on what would be a busy Saturday, and the other scheduled during East Lindsey’s extended SO Festival week, any impact on tourism is sure to be more keenly felt this time round.

Meanwhile, the union and rail bosses appear no closer to a resolution in their dispute over pension payments - with rail bosses slamming the latest strikes as “indefensible and unecessary” and union leaders accusing EMT of “smears” designed to “sabotage” talks before they even begin.

“Both the RMT and Unite unions have recommended acceptance of the same updated pensions proposals we offered to ASLEF several weeks ago,” said EMT’s managing director, David Horne.

“ASLEF also accepted the same pension contribution changes as two other rail companies. The action being taken by ASLEF is indefensible and pure hypocrisy.”

ASLEF’s general secretary Mick Whelan has reacted angrily to East Midlands Trains’ accusations.

“The company began to put out these smears only hours after agreeing a meeting [with us],” he said.

“So on one hand they smile and promise open and honest talks, while on the other they sneak around calling the union names. And then they accuse us of hypocrisy!”

“I have to say their ill-tempered outbursts do not bode well for an agreement to be made at the meeting. They are clearly more concerned with their egos than their passengers.”

The two parties are due to meet today (Tuesday).