Latest Rail News

16.03.17

Aslef agrees revised Southern deal, but RMT announces new strike

For the second time this year, Aslef union leaders have agreed new terms to settle their dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern’s parent company – but the deal has yet to be put to wider members.

In a statement, Aslef said its executive committee will be recommending that members accept the new deal in a referendum, a move which could finally end the year-long row between the union and the beleaguered operator.

But it is not the first time that its leaders have accepted a refreshed deal: in early February, they settled on a provisional agreement with GTR – a decision dismissed as “shocking betrayal” by fellow union RMT – but members moved to reject the deal two weeks later.

Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, has now said that the new deal has the “full support” of the negotiating team and the executive committee, arguing that it “offers solutions to our concerns, as well as restoring the confidence of all parties and the travelling public”.

Andy Bindon, human resources director of GTR, added that the deal was a result of constructive talks after an “extraordinarily difficult period” for passengers, staff and the regional economy, all of which took a blow from the series of strikes that have taken place on Southern since last year.

“We look forward to restoring good industrial relations with ASLEF,” said Bindon, who argued that the two groups had “found a way to move forward together”.

The result of the referendum will be announced 3 April.

RMT’s reaction to the revised deal, however, was less amicable. Its general secretary, Mick Cash, stated that the package is “basically the old deal in a new envelope”, and his union “does not believe for a moment that drivers and guards will be hoodwinked”.

At the end of the day, Cash said, drivers and passengers both lack the “cast-iron guarantee they once had” of a guard on the train, which RMT believes will leave the more exposed and “left vulnerable when something goes wrong”, despite other organisations disagreeing.

“The fact is that GTR have deliberately done this deal behind the backs of guards and their union. Yet again guards are finding out at the last minute and via social media not from their employer. The real agenda here is to undermine the jobs and skills of a loyal and dedicated workforce regardless of the cost to safety and accessibility,” the union boss added.

“RMT’s disputes remains on and we are seeking an urgent meeting with company and government.”

UPDATE

RMT has now announced that its Southern members will once again strike for 24 hours on 4 April, but Cash said the union is willing to reconsider this threat "to allow for talks to take place" with GTR management. 

“All parties should be at the negotiating table and RMT’s continued exclusion means we have no option but to press ahead with further industrial action,” he added.

(Top image c. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

Comments

Mikeyb   16/03/2017 at 17:16

Nobody should hold their breath on this as, like the "agreement" in February, the ASLEF membership at Southern may again reject the deal.

Dany   20/03/2017 at 08:24

Mick Cash said: The real agenda here is to undermine the jobs and skills of a loyal and dedicated workforce regardless of the cost to safety and accessibility." When are you going to declare your real agenda Mr. Cash?

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