Southern Rail criticised for '˜insensitive' response to strike decision after Manchester bombing

Southern Rail has been criticised for its '˜insensitive' response to a union's decision to call off a strike in light of the Manchester attack.

Wednesday, 24th May 2017, 11:47 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:28 pm
Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union were due to walk out for 24 hours on May 30 in a bitter dispute over driver-controlled trains.

But yesterday it confirmed it would call off the industrial action in respect of Monday night’s attack.

Workers at two other operators, Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail, had also planned to strike.

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General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘In light of the horrific bombing in Manchester and the heightened safety and security alerts on the transport service, the RMT executive has taken the decision to suspend the 24-hour strike scheduled for May 30 on Southern, Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail.

‘Our thoughts and solidarity are with the people of Manchester.’

A Southern spokesman initially said: ‘This is an appropriate response by the RMT to the tragedy in Manchester.

‘The union now needs to use this opportunity to agree to the very good offers we have made, including job guarantees, and work with us to future-proof the busiest railway in the UK for our passengers - most of whom simply want to get to their place of work each day.’

Members of the RMT union have been carrying out strikes for more than a year. Picture: RMT

Southern later said an incorrect version of its statement had been issued.

A spokesman said: ‘This is an appropriate response by the RMT to the tragedy in Manchester. We thank them for taking this step.’

Users on Twitter criticised the operator for its ‘insensitive’ initial response.

Croydon-based journalist Thomas Mackintosh‏ posted: ‘Fair to say this an insensitive response from #SouthernRail to the @RMTunion’s decision to suspend a strike?’

22 people were killed during Monday's attack in Manchester. Picture: PA.

Eddie Vermeer said: ‘Crass and insensitive by @SouthernRailUK doesn’t even come close.’

And Andy Birss commented: ‘The first sentence suffices- The rest is opportunist and inappropriate by @SouthernRailUK The person who wrote it should be ashamed.’

In a statement today a Southern spokesperson said: ‘An incorrect statement was issued yesterday afternoon. We apologise for any offence caused.’

Members of the RMT union have been carrying out strikes for more than a year. Picture: RMT
22 people were killed during Monday's attack in Manchester. Picture: PA.