MPs criticise Virgin Trains for pulling the plug on peace talks

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Two Labour MPs have criticised Virgin Trains bosses for pulling the plug on peace talks after an Olympic strike ballot was cancelled on the busy West Coast main line.

Julie Hilling and Katy Clark helped set up peace talks between the rail firm and the TSSA rail union last week. But the company collapsed the talks on Friday within minutes of them starting without telling the MPs why.

“I am extremely disappointed with the behaviour of Virgin Trains,” said Ms Hilling, MP for Bolton West.

“They have been disingenous and I really wonder why they would want to treat MPs this way. I certainly expected better of them.

“With other MPs, I attempted to bring a resolution to this dispute and, on the basis of assurances given by the company of meaningful talks, the strike ballot was withdrawn.

“Virgin then changed the terms of the meeting with me and it did not go ahead but, worse than that, did not have the promised discussion with the TSSA.”

Katy Clark, MP for Ayrshire North, added: “We have been led up the garden path by a company that operates the busiest franchise in the UK.

“By refusing to enter meaningful talks on Friday, after given firm assurances that they would do just that, they have acted in bad faith.

“The union has handed them an olive branch and they have just  slapped them around the face with it.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We have stated publicly that we do not want to disrupt the Olympics and we  remain ready to talk at any time to resolve the dispute over  our suspended rep at the company’s HQ in Birmingham.”


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