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GTR seeks new injunction to stop Aslef ballot

A legal injunction has been sought by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to stop Aslef balloting its drivers over the introduction of 12-car driver-operated only (DOO) trains.

GTR today issued papers at the High Court to challenge the ballot of Southern and Gatwick Express drivers, which is open until 23 May.

GTR had previously obtained an injunction to stop their drivers on the Gatwick Express from refusing to drive the trains. The operator added that because Aslef induced drivers to refuse to drive trains in advance of conducting the ballot, it cannot now lawfully ask them to take industrial action.

It also suggested that Aslef’s selection of drivers breached balloting laws.

A GTR spokesperson said: “We only launch legal action reluctantly, but it is our responsibility to do everything we can to seek to protect our passengers against further industrial action.”

The application is expected to be considered at a High Court hearing next week.

In a statement, Aslef said it was “disappointed” by the action and would decide its next steps once the ballot closed.

GTR is in a separate dispute with RMT over the introduction of DOO on Southern trains, which has led to strikes on 26 and 27 April and 17 May.

The strikes could also spread to ScotRail after RMT announced yesterday that it was balloting the company’s conductors.

(Image c. Rui Vieira from PA Wire)

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Neil Palmer   19/05/2016 at 20:18

As long as GTR as going to the High Court anyway isn't it about time they sued the RMT too? Who made the RMT arbiters or safety? Are there not other official bodies in the UK responsible for rail safety, the RSSB to name just one. Hasn't DOO operation been is use in the UK for decades? Maybe the RMT can tell us how many hundreds of passengers have been killed because of this? Do RMT members have some sort of "human right" to close doors on trains? Do RMT members get to pick and choose what THEY want to do at work, instead of the one who signs their pay cheques? Do RMT members not have a contract to work for GTR? Haven't they been guaranteed no job losses and no loss in pay? be continued (as apparently there's an unstated size limit to comments here)

Neil Palmer   19/05/2016 at 20:19

...continued In the real world if your boss told you he wanted you to mingle more with customers and assist them would you go out on strike? Try that and you'd soon be looking for another job. If President Reagan in the USA could fire all the air traffic controllers after a radical union pushed things too far and have replacements hired for all of them maybe GTR should just fire all their RMT staff who appear not to want to work and hire some of the many who would gladly take their places. The day when the public can no longer be held hostage to greedy over-powerful unions who overstep their bounds is long overdue. Let's have this settled in court once and for all.

John From Rye   19/05/2016 at 21:56

Neil - you seem to have forgotten the passenger in all this. Do you really think that it's safe to operate a train with up to or over 1000 people on board with just one member of staff? There is a real safety issue here long term - GTR Southern are only interested in short term economies as these reflect directly as additional income on their bottom line the way that their franchise is structured.

Neil Palmer   20/05/2016 at 00:14

John, You are entirely missing the point. GTR has guaranteed NO job losses (and NO pay cuts). The "guard" is being retained but the job function redefined slightly so they are more visible on the trains, providing a VISIBLE presence to enhance passengers safety, and feeling of security (especially on evening trains) instead of hiding away and only appearing when it's time to press a button to open/close a door. Because of the guarantee of no job losses and no cut in pay the RMT claim that this is being done to enhance profits is exposed as the blatant lie it is. If you think this disagreement is about safety then you've been fooled by the RMT. If drivers operating the doors was unsafe why has it been allowed since 1982 on other services (including many serving the same lines & stations as Southern) ? There are organizations responsible for rail safety - any claim by the RMT (or ASLEF) that they are doing something in the name of safety needs to be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Andrew   20/05/2016 at 00:36

I still cannot believe how gullible some folk can be regarding this no pay cut and job loss carry on. Once the guards loose thier safety critical status the company will hire lower paid ticket inspectors and steadily replace the higher paid guards. The requirement to have a safety critical guard on every train will also cease to exist so you can kiss overtime goodbye to any overtime which will be a paycut in itself, then the company will tear the conductors terms and conditions to spreads. If they threatened to strike, what use would that do as the trains will still run, yes it is about safety more than anything, but also people's livelihoods aswell. Regarding the visibility issue, I don't HIDE in the back cab and only come out to do doors, I'm visible all the way through the shift. It's company smoke screen tactics and idiots are falling for it.

Neil Palmer   20/05/2016 at 00:47

Andrew, It seems many have a different opinion, as expressed in this article: You can hardly blame anyone for not believing a word the RMT leadership says - they cry wolf so often on the "safety" issue they have lost all credibility with the national press and the public (and I suspect too with many of your colleagues, though as they browbeat their membership and result to bullying tactics no doubt many are afraid to express that opinion).

Neil Palmer   20/05/2016 at 00:52

Andrew - one further point that illustrates the RMT lies about this being about money - GTR are on a management contract and are paid a fee by the DfT. Revenue risk (and profit) are assumed by the DfT, yet the RMT continues to drag out the old socialist lie that this is about private corporate fat cats grabbing public money to feed their shareholders. That's a blatant RMT lie and the public aren't "gullible" enough to swallow it, even if some of the RMT membership are.

Andrew   20/05/2016 at 01:00

I stand by what I've said and don't work for southern. Thanks for your reply anyhow.

Richard   20/05/2016 at 13:13

They've stated no job losses, this is correct - however they've written to the Insolvency Service telling them all their Guards are being made unemployed - they'll have to reapply for jobs that the bastard employer has created. There isn't going to be any loss of earnings you said? Wrong, they're increasing the working week for no extra cash - that's a pay cut, is it not? Imagine the situation. Train breaks down at an unstaffed station at midnight with over a thousand people on board (it does happen, even with the most reliable rolling stock) and the driver is expected to protect the train as per the rule book, speak to the signaller, speak to his control, liaise with the fitter about the fault, and then get over a thousand disgruntled punters off the train. Might as well put a broom up his arse too,he can sweep the train as he goes, eh? GTR are absolutely wrong to remove Guards and they know it.

Kevin   20/05/2016 at 13:20

Neil , I don't know where you get your info from ( the management ?) . Here are a few facts and not propaganda which you are vilifying the unions of producing yet are making unsubstantiated points yourself. 30% of the Network is Driver only operated fact ; in the last few months there have been 9 platform train interface serious incidents which are being investigated by the RAIB of these 7 relate to driver only operation. So from a safety point of view a passenger is 7 X more likely to be involved in a serious incident on driver only trains

Mark   20/05/2016 at 13:53

Neil you really must be a management stooge, all the facts and figures you are spouting is exactly what southern management are trying to persuade the public are true, it's not about jobs or money it's about passenger safety and that's all its about, once a DOO set takes power all the cameras and monitors turn off so the driver is looking straight ahead, anything that happened after that he has no idea about but having a guard on the train standing by the door till the train has left the platform is one of the more important safety aspects..

Tony   20/05/2016 at 14:29

Neil, let's see if you're as good at maths as GTR The OBS consultation document it says there are 470 guards and 87 revenue staff with Southern. That the target is to have 255 OBS and 194 conductors, that is a target of 108 less jobs. Nowhere in any of their literature does it say what happens to the 108 staff. They have, however, stated that they are going to make conductor and RPO grades redundant and re-employ them, thereby making 108 staff redundant. Therefore GTR are liars.

Terminator   20/05/2016 at 15:08

Neil: You are a bellend !!!

Ray Wallace   20/05/2016 at 15:14

conductors are vital on trains they do so much more than just open and close doors if you take them off trains there is a massive risk of major accidents happening not all people who travel on trains are nice peaceful people there can be alot of trouble on trains so keep the condutors simplz

Neil Palmer   20/05/2016 at 15:42

Tony, Do the 87 revenue staff not stay (maybe to cover the already DOO lines) in addition to the 255 OBS and 194 conductors? Admittedly that would still be a drop of 21 jobs. Don't many of the busier stations also have platform staff that help dispatch trains so it's not down to just the driver at those stations? I agree on board staff should definitely remain, and GTR should put that in writing, with the condition that in the rare occasion where one does not show up for their shift and there is a train with a driver and hundreds of passengers waiting to leave. I'm sure the vast majority of the passengers would rather their train leave in a case like that than have it cancelled, and it's obvious cancelling a service in a case like that has knock-on effects through the rest of the day on other services. Also network capacity is at its limits on many routes, and having the driver operate the doors (especially opening) is needed to reduce station dwell time and help provide additional capacity. The guard can be delayed in reaching door controls and this adds wasted time to a station stop. There's certainly no safety issue with a driver OPENING the doors, and OBS should be available to assist with checking on closing them. PS - Terminator - at least have the intestinal fortitude to post under a real name. Are you Jeremy Clarkson ? ;-)

Dave Hall   20/05/2016 at 16:08

Here's a guards(Conductors) job in a nutshell its not just selling tickets and operating doors . 1) Guards are wholly responsible for your safety on the train . The driver is responsible for getting it there safely . 2) Guards are responsible for despatching the train safely and instructing the driver in its Safe movement . 3) Guards are there to assist the driver in the event a safety system fails in the cab . 4) Guards are there to look after YOU in the event of an accident the driver has other duties to carry out if they're not incapacitated . 5) in the event of a fire the Guard looks after you and if its in the train deals with it if its on the outside the driver does it while the Guard looks after YOU . 10) The guard is YOUR point of contact if you feel unsafe and is the eyes and earson the train for security . 11 ) Guards are there for assistance to passengers who are less mobile and of maturer years . 12) Guards have more direct contact with Transport police should they be needed . 13) Guards have Training to evacuate trains with their route knowledge and track safety training can lead you to safety if required. 14) in the event of a fatality the driver will be busy and in state of mind to deal with passengers but the Guard will . So Southern and mr palmer stop making out its all about doors as its not . Guards are vital to train safety . Just a few statistics 9 out 11 recent Train despatch accidents were on DOO trains since 1999 5 incidents have occured where the driver was sadly killed or incapacitated . On a Driver only train who would be there for you !

Neil Palmer   20/05/2016 at 19:27

Dave, All very excellent points and I don't disagree with them. Despite what may have come across in my posts I absolutely NOT in favour of eliminating on board staff (whether you use the term guard, conductor, train manager, whatever). What I am in favour of if having the driver operate the doors (at the very least OPEN them to avoid increasing station dwell time and allow for better network utilization) while allowing the guard/conductor to conduct the many other tasks they have. A delay in opening the doors causes an obvious delay to the service, and with today's congested railyway has a knock0on effect to many other services, and it's time that waste of time came to an end. Having the driver OPEN the doors is NOT a safety issue, and the on board guard/conductor/manager SHOULD still assist with closing them. HOWEVER with a 10-12 car train and say a curved platform (one curving in a direction as to block a view of the full train from any one door) or any station where the sheer number of people on the platform block a view all the way down the train, who is better equipped to see all the doors? A guard whose view is obscured, or a driver in his cab with CCTV and a camera over every door (AND at busier stations, dispatch staff on the platform)? Isn't that one a no-brainer? AND I am in favour of allowing a train service to run in rare cases where the guard/conductor is unavailable for the shift (illness, missed a connection, etc.) AND no replacement is available. That's preferable to cancelling a service and inconveniencing hundreds (maybe thousands) of passengers, and is NOT an excuse for GTR to not maintain sufficient staff (without having to rely on overtime working) to cover all scheduled services. That condition should be given in writing by GTR, guaranteeing they will employ sufficient staff for all scheduled services, without relying on voluntary overtime working. Of course after complaining about TOC's who rely on overtime working to staff all services I'm sure the RMT will then complain that GTR is taking away their member's overtime pay. ;-)

Breena   21/05/2016 at 07:55

Just to clarify, the drivers do open the doors on Southern trains and at most curved playforms there are platform staff to assist with dispatch but the driver probably wont be able to see them being in his cab. The items you day GTR need to put in writing they wont as GTR are not making any garuntees to the staff hence the stalled meetings. Do you really believe that they will be replacing the staff who leave? If they r not needed on the trains (which is what GTR are suggesting to do) why would GTR replace them? Therefore staff will become less visable as there will not b as many of them. This is just the first stage of more things to come. There other thing not mentioned here like the fining of honest travellers who have been unable to get a ticket due to closure or ticket office and machines that do not work etc. Just please do not believe what GTR r saying as there is such alot they are not saying which wil impact on passengers and staff alike.

Dave Hall   21/05/2016 at 08:49

Fair point , but in some cases it's not beneficial for the Driver to open the doors . 1) if the conductor is having problems with passengers and needs police assitance before the said passengers do a runner . 2) to control the entry of passengers on busy trains . 3) If the train is incorrectly stopped in the right place (after all drivers are only human and make mistakes) My personal view and one shared by more experienced railwaymen is the same . I have first hand experience of the problems and dangers of DOO , i worked them for 15 years and now i work trains with Guards . I feel safer and less pressurised with a Guard .

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