Aslef members reject Southern deal as further strike looms
Aslef drivers have voted to reject a proposed resolution with Southern, therefore failing to put an end to the bitter 10-month dispute between the operator and rail trade unions.
The union’s referendum result comes a day after RMT’s own negotiations with Southern broke down, triggering another 24-hour strike scheduled for 22 February.
At the beginning of February, Aslef’s executive reached a truce with Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, a move that sparked outrage from fellow union RMT who described it as a “shocking betrayal.”
But when the revised deal was put to Aslef’s members, train drivers voted by 54% to reject the truce.
Mike Whelan, the union’s general secretary, argued the executive team “understand support the decision arrived at democratically”, and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with the expectations of its members.
But commenting on the result, Nick Brown, chief operating officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Naturally we’re saddened and hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the Aslef leadership.
“We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”
The rejection of a deal between the two parties will cause even more concern for commuters as the high possibility of both unions taking industrial action will cause major disruption to services.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, expressed his concern: “This is a disappointing outcome that will worry hundreds of thousands of passengers.
“At the heart of this dispute are changes that will provide passengers with the better service they need and want. Where safety, jobs and pay are unaffected, the railway must be able to harness new technology and smarter ways of working to deliver the modern rail service the country needs.”
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