The standoff between South Western Railway and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) Union went on today, as Labour faced claims it was working alongside union bosses to boost its election prospects.
Commuters were left miserable again as the longest rail strike in history entered its second day, with some warning that the remaining trains were “dangerously” overcrowded during morning and evening rush hours.
One passenger, Chris Hazell, tweeted: “You need to get this mess sorted. The overcrowding on these trains is so dangerous. A number of people on my train complaining of feeling ill.”
Another, Charlotte Olrod, asked: “How are South Western Railway not breaching health and safety regs?”
Both sides claimed they were open to fresh talks yesterday, but there has been no contact between the two since workers started their 27-day strike on Monday morning.
Instead, the focus has turned to the effect it might have on the upcoming General Election, after it emerged John McDonnell has promised RMT it would be “in government with us” and would be “key advisers”.
The union leadership announced the current strike within a week of the election being called at the end of October.
It decided against re-affiliating with Labour at a conference last year. However, it has donated more than £300,000 to the party in the last five years.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said South Western executives had put their “heads in the sand rather than getting back round the table”.
A spokesperson for South Western said: “We are always open to talks if the RMT is ready to work with us to improve our service and develop a more visible, customer focussed role for guards.”