We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. Donna Drozd of Ventnor shares this open letter to Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely. Ed
Dear Mr Seely
Due to a very busy work schedule, this is the first opportunity I have had to request some clarification and sources appertaining to a quote that you released to the local media just preceeding the South Western Railways staff strike on 8th and 9th November 2017, and I quote:-
“South Western Railway, which runs Island line, has made it absolutely clear it will not remove guards from trains. No-one is losing their job. Despite this, the union is prepared to walk out for 48 hours on Wednesday and Thursday.
“This strike is a needless and selfish attempt to disrupt other peoples’ lives.
“This industrial action has nothing to do with rail safety and all to do with opposing the government while using Islanders as pawns.”
(Source – Isle of Wight County Press – 7th November 2017)
Seely: “I condemn it”
I note that OnTheWight included the beginning of your statement, which the IWCP didn’t as:-
“I am very disappointed that this strike is taking place. I condemn it. I do not believe it has anything to do with the Island”
(Source – OnTheWight – 7th November 2017)
Some clarity please
Just to simplify the issue and where I would appreciate both clarity and sourcing, I am breaking down the quote:-
- “South Western Railway, which runs Island Line, has made it absolutely clear it will not remove guards from trains”.
I would be most grateful if you provide the source for this claim as it directly contradicts the email that I received from South Western Railways on the 9th October 2017 advising otherwise, which states they are “currently unable to provide a definitive answer to your question about guards on our trains”.
- “No-one is losing their job. Despite this, the union is prepared to walk out for 48 hours on Wednesday and Thursday”.
Again, I would be most grateful if you could provide the source that all employees are protected by South Western Railways, as per the protection of keeping guards on trains which again condradicts the email I received on the 9th October 2017.
- “This strike is a needless and selfish attempt to disrupt other peoples’ lives”.
I strongly disagree Bob and I say that as someone who uses South Western Railways to get to work. I find it an interesting perspective to make such a statement. Please would you advise when you consulted with the 30 Island Line staff who partook in the strike for their perspective on being called “selfish”?
- “This industrial action has nothing to do with rail safety and all to do with opposing the government while using Islanders as pawns.”
I am an Islander and a commuter. This has everything to do with rail safety. As an Islander, I am not a “pawn” – I am an extremely concerned railway user who knows the reality of oversubscribed services being understaffed and therefore unsafe. Again, please can I ask when you consulted with Island Line staff or Union representatives to draw this conclusion?
On the note of “rail safety”, please can I enquire as to why the largest constituency in the UK has the oldest trains – 1938 rolling stock to be precise! Particularly in the light of the recent Ryde Pier train fire. This really isn’t an acceptable standard for either residents or tourists.
- “I am very disappointed that this strike is taking place. I condemn it. I do not believe it has anything to do with the Island”.
Condemn is a very strong word Bob. There are quite a few things that I condemn but a democratic decision to strike on the grounds of rail safety and the protection of workers rights is certainly not of them. I feel like I am asking the same question again, but please advise when you met and consulted with Island Line staff and Union representatives to a) condemn it and b) decide it has nothing to do with the Island. Given our antiquated rail stock I would have thought that would have been obvious.
- Finally, as it is directly related to the issue, our Prime Minister regularly refers to our “Industrial Strategy”, almost on a weekly basis. Please can you furnish me with a copy and the references to the Isle of Wight highlighted.
Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you.