More rail strikes threatened as current action draws to a close

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A TRAIN operator hopes normal services to and from Skegness will resume tomorrow (Friday) after the last of six one-day strikes by rail drivers on Thursday.

East Midlands Trains is optimistic today will be the final day of service disruption as no further strike action has been called by the train drivers’ union ASLEF.

The rail company now hopes to resolve its pension disputes with the union through talks rather than industrial action.

EMT managing director David Horne said: “It’s good news for our passengers that no further unnecessary strike action has been announced by ASLEF - now is the time to sit down and resolve this issue for the benefit of everyone.

“We have always been open to further discussions and last week put forward constructive proposals that would enhance take-home pay to our people and increase their pension benefits.

“If ASLEF now show the same commitment, there is no reason why we cannot sort this issue.”

As the argument rumbled on through last week’s inconclusive talks both sides have come under fire from one another with increasingly derogatory remarks and inflammatory accusations.

EMT accused the union of ‘keeping its members in the dark’ and urged ASLEF to let the drivers decide for themselves on the pension proposals offered.

ASLEF’s general secretary Mick Whelan responded by saying the accusations were ‘bizarre and insulting’ which showed EMT was ‘getting desperate’.

“This type of misleading attack will only lengthen this dispute,” he said.

Although ASLEF’s strike action ends today, further service disruptions loom potentially on the horizon following news that rail union RMT has also waded into the debate.

Yesterday it began balloting members for strike action and other measures in objection to the pension proposals it claims could have ‘serious long term implications for he health of he fund as the volatile financial markets head downward on the back of the Eurozone crisis.’

RMT General secretary Bob Crow said: “Management are trying to con our members in the interest of a windfall profit for shareholders - we are campaigning for a massive ‘yes’ vote in this ballot.”

EMT’s Mr Horne reacted to the announcement by saying it was ‘extremely unhelpful’ and would do nothing to resolve the dispute.’

The RMT ballot is due to close on May 30.