Latest Rail News

03.04.17

Aslef rejects new Southern deal by margin of 26 votes

Drivers’ union Aslef has today voted to reject another proposed deal to bring its dispute over driver-only-operated (DOO) trains with Southern Rail to an end.

In the ballot cast today, guards and drivers who were members of the union voted not to accept Southern’s agreement on DOO by a slim margin of 51.8% – with only 26 votes separating the final decision.

In March, Aslef agreed terms to end its dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for the second time this year, with the union’s executive recommending that its members accept the revised proposals and call a halt to any further problems.

But the decision taken by the wider membership has gone against leaders’ recommendation once again – and could signal the announcement of more strikes and disruption on the Southern network.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We understand and support the decision arrived at in a democratic vote by our drivers and will now seek new talks with the company and work to deliver a resolution to this dispute in line with the expectations of our members.”

Andy Binton of GTR also said that it was “hugely disappointing outcome” for all passengers, particularly considering that Aslef leaders had actually put their backing behind ending the dispute.

“We have shown a willingness and desire to find a solution to their dispute and we will now, once again, sit down with the union, understand the issues which led to this regrettable decision by the drivers and try and find a way forward to resolving it,” said Binton.

Aslef leaders’ continued co-operation with Southern in trying to bring the dispute to an end was something that RMT general secretary Mick Cash had previously described as a “shocking betrayal” of workers and passengers.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, also commented: “It’s very disappointing. A stronger railway needs everyone working together to improve services for passengers, employees and businesses across the Southern region and the whole of Britain.

“We would urge Aslef to return to talks and we call on the RMT to call off its planned strikes on Saturday when people will be going to the Grand National – a much-loved iconic British event watched around the world.

“Britain deserves a long-term plan working together to improve services.”

RMT went on strike on 13 March to protest against DOO changes, and will follow that up with another strike on Southern services tomorrow. On Northern and Merseyrail services, RMT has also provoked uproar after it decided to strike on 8 April, the day of the Grand National, which will inevitably cause maximum disruption on the network.

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Comments

Jabbasoft   03/04/2017 at 17:31

Does this suggest the Aslef leadership team are not representing their members or they are unable to communicate the deal(s) they are recommending in an adequate way? Is Mr Whelan going to change tack or resign? [I'm not a union member, just a commuter on GTR services - so again have uncertainty]

Andy Martin   03/04/2017 at 18:18

Time to resign Mr Whelan. Do you not understand that this shows drivers do NOT want any extension to DOO . Instead of taking management's side and tweaking this deal until it gets accepted you need to listen to what drivers have told you at the ballot box and call further industrial action until Southern back down. You are already stabbing guards in the back, don't do the same to your own members.

Richard   03/04/2017 at 23:12

Despite the bulldozer approach by the Dft and the farce inflicted by GTR, the issue of DOO will not go away! THe Unions have not helped but fundamentally the question has to be asked is DOO an actual improvement? Yes, it can be done (we are assured) safely but many passengers I speak to are uneasy at the prospect of just a driver on their train. This applies particularly on crushed services and in rural areas. A driver cannot observe endless mirrors, monitors on platforms and in cabs, signals and any platform staff all at once and safely. Similarly on-board incidents cannot be monitored and dealt with. We seem to be bent on headlong removal of qualified and sufficient staff in favour of automation thes edays (and don't get me started on barriers and their ability to gridlock!). Just because it CAN be done, does not necessarily mean it SHOULD be done.

John Grant   04/04/2017 at 15:42

@Richard: we cope very well without any on-board staff (apart from the driver) on Great Northern, which is both rural and (at peak times) "crushed".

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