Trains strikes set to continue next week

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TRAIN disruptions to Skegness and Wainfleet services will continue next week after union leaders and the rail operator failed to come to an agreement over pension disputes.

ASLEF, the train drivers union, intends to carry out further strikes on Tuesday and Thursday, afters its negotiation team was left ‘very disappointed’ by discussions held with East Midlands Trains (EMT) to resolve the issue.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said EMT’s management had come to the table ‘without flexibility, without fresh ideas and without serious intent to end the dispute,’ during discussions held yesterday (Thursday).

EMT, however, claims to have put forward ‘constructive proposals aimed at ending the dispute and reassuring employees on the future of their pensions’ and was ‘frustrated’ that no agreement had been reached.

HR director for EMT Clare McCartney said: “The EMT pension scheme has been independently assessed as being in good financial health.

“It is one of the relatively few remaining final salary schemes in the UK, with a level of benefits most other people in the country don’t have access to.

“Our final proposals would be a win for our employees, who could get a higher take-home pay and build up a bigger personal pension pot, it would be a win for our businesses, allowing us to resolve an unnecessary dispute and it would be a win for our passengers, whose normal high-quality train service can be restored.

“We are frustrated our constructive attempts to provide a resolution on this issue have not been taken up by ASLEF and the union has not offered any alternative way to resolve the dispute.”

Both parties claim their ‘doors remain open’ for further talks to achieve a resolution and restore normal services.

In the meantime, passengers using the Skegness to Nottingham service on Tuesday and Thursday, will have to make do with replacement buses and Stagecoach’s number 7 service between Skegness and Boston during the third week of strikes.

Tourism and business leaders have widely condemned the disruption, which they fear could be off-putting to visitors, particularly elderly travellers who may find transferring from train to bus an inconvenience when contending with journey times that have almost doubled in certain cases.

A group of retired sailors from the Royal Arthur Association due to arrive in Skegness yesterday, were forced to change their travel plans to accommodate the strikes, feeling they could not rely on being adequately assisted on their disjointed journey.