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RMT accuses Aslef of ‘shocking betrayal’ in Southern deal

The RMT has lashed out at the truce agreed last week between fellow rail union Aslef and Southern rail in the pair’s long-running dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains, calling it a “shocking betrayal” of workers and passengers.

Last week Aslef and GTR reached a provisional agreement to end the dispute with Aslef agreeing to recommend the deal to its drivers as the union called it a “significant step forward” in addressing its concerns about the safety of DOO.

However, after seeing details of the agreement, the RMT has slammed the deal and its organisers the Trades Union Congress (TUC), saying that it would lead to de-staffing of trains.

“This so-called agreement is a shocking and historical betrayal presided over by the TUC of not only the conductor grade and drivers, but also passengers, including disabled passengers, who have lost the guarantee of a second member of staff on their trains,” said the RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash.

“This abysmal document lists a whole host of areas where a train can leave without a second member of staff that will leave both the driver and passengers exposed and vulnerable, and which also represents a thin end of the wedge that will lead to the de-staffing of trains.”

It has been reported that, in a significant compromise reached between Aslef and GTR, the deal outlines circumstances when a train can be operated without an on-board supervisor, such as absenteeism, lateness or illness, or if a guard has to leave a train to handle an emergency.

The revelation has led Cash to accuse Aslef of betraying train conductors who have long fought against DOO, saying that conductors “have had the legs kicked from under them by those who are supposed to be on their side”.

 “Passengers and staff alike have been sold out by a stitch-up cooked up in Congress House by the TUC and the bosses while Southern, one of the most anti-union and hated companies of recent times, is laughing all the way to the bank and have been given a free run to rip up the safety rule book in the name of profits,” Cash added.

“This is not a deal, it is a disgrace, and the RMT dispute remains on and we will fight this shocking betrayal with every tool at our disposal.”

The RMT had not been invited to the talks between Aslef and GTR and are still in dispute with the Southern operator, with some of its drivers engaged in recent industrial action.

However, the RMT is set to enter its own round of talks this week after GTR offered an invitation to the union last week with the proviso that there is no threat of further strikes.

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said that his negotiating team is willing to meet the RMT “in a spirit of open and positive dialogue to explore the areas of difference between us with a view to resolving the dispute in the interests of our customers and employees”.

The result of Aslef’s ballot of its members on its deal with GTR is due to be announced on Thursday 16 February. It is unclear what will happen next if Aslef’s members reject GTR’s fresh offer.

(Image c. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Lee   06/02/2017 at 15:05

Maybe Mick cash is so upset about ASLEF reaching an agreement with Southern because it undermines the RMT's long-standing argument about safety and the need to guarantee two members of staff on board trains. As far as I can tell, Southern are not making any redundancies and have said conducters will concentrate on revenue collection and assisting passengers. However, if one of these people is unavailable, rather than cancel the train and put more pressure on the next available service, not to mention impacting Health & Safety by increased loading and crush-loading, trains will continue to run until a member of staff is available. Maybe the RMT have pushed their argument so far they can't back down, even when other unions can reach a deal?

Alex   06/02/2017 at 15:26

It is an act of treachery led by and supported by the toothless and faceless tuc. Aslef should hang there heads in shame. It is a scab agreement

Jimbo   06/02/2017 at 17:22

So RMT, and Mick Cash in particular, throws its teddy out of the pram yet again. Publicly embarrassing some of their few supporters is hardly the attitude to earn respect. If they acted like professionals and showed a real respect for their customers, rather than acting like a petulant teenager, they might actually get somewhere with their grievances.

Lutz   06/02/2017 at 18:47

I would take the agreement as a recognition by the TUC that the RMT does not have any substance to its claims.

Neil Palmer   06/02/2017 at 18:57

So it appears Mick Cash, stubborn to the end, is going to go down with the ship. All I can say is, good riddance. Maybe the RMT membership will elect someone who can negotiate properly without painting themselves into a corner. Of course Mick could always admit he was wrong and come to an agreement. Nah !

Paul   07/02/2017 at 12:33

This is twaddle by the Union 1) The trains running on the same route and under the same franchise, namely Thameslink and Gatwick Express, do so without the need for guards. 2 Thameslink stop at many stations en-route and disabled passengers are adequately provided for. 3) RSSB and ORR agree there is no threat to safety 4) before sliding doors were provided we had slam door trains and how many guards took much interest in closing all the doors then? The grounds for the dispute are without substance! and the dispute should cease forthwith.

John Grant   07/02/2017 at 13:21

@Paul: (1) and GN (4) to be fair, they did make sure the doors were closed, if only because otherwise an open door could hit lineside equipment. (5) the only recent fatality was with guard-controlled doors

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