A plea from rail company Southern for beleaguered passengers to tell the RMT union how they feel about ongoing strikes appears to have backfired.
Southern tweeted: “Time to get back on track. Tweet @RMTunion & tell them how rail strikes make you feel.”
Dozens of passengers immediately responded, but not in the manner rail bosses might have hoped.
Marianne Powell tweeted: “You brought this on yourselves. We, your customers are suffering.”
Another passenger, Simon Cox, posted: “I dislike unions but I dislike incompetent management more.”
Months of industrial action by the RMT and high levels of staff sickness have hit Southern’s services, which link London with Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire.
Last month the RMT said workers would stage 14 days of strike action in the long-running dispute over the role of conductors on trains.
The union said it had no alternative but to take action over what it called Southern’s “blatant disregard for the safety and security of passengers and staff alike”.
Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink, called the RMT’s action “shameful”.
Commenting on Southern’s message, Another Angry Woman tweeted: “Strongly recommend you read this thread, @SouthernRailUK bc the problems are on you.”
The next planned strike announced by the RMT is between 00:01 BST Tuesday 11 October and 23:59 BST Thursday 13 October.
Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT, said: “This is a pathetic attempt by the basket case Southern franchise to once again try to blame their front line staff for their own managerial incompetence.
“Southern GTR have wrecked services across the South East. The passengers know that and that is why the commuters themselves are mounting a legal challenge against the company. “
A Southern spokesman said: “Our aim was to get the debate going and to let people know exactly what our very fair and comprehensive offer is and how we are trying to modernise the train service for our passengers, which the RMT leadership is trying to block.
“Thousands of passengers are demanding to know what we are doing to bring this dispute to an end. We felt there was a need to let them know.”