Southern train drivers vote to accept deal

A Southern Rail train

Southern train drivers have voted to accept a deal over pay, terms and conditions, and driver-only operation.

Last year ASLEF joined the RMT union’s industrial dispute over the further extension of DOO on the Southern network by Govia Thameslink Railway.

The changes make drivers responsible for opening and closing train doors, with guards transferred to the role of on-board supervisor.

The last two deals negotiated by ASLEF’s leadership have been rejected by members, but a third deal has been approved by 79.1 per cent in favour, on a turnout of 87.1 per cent.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “Our members on Southern, after careful consideration, and long and hard negotiations, have voted to accept this resolution to our industrial dispute with the company.

“We are pleased with a resolution which, we believe, works for the staff, and the company, and we now look forward to working with Southern Rail to restore good industrial relations and deliver the service passengers in the region deserve.”

He added: “The agreement means we will have a second safety-trained person on every train covered by this agreement except in exceptional circumstances.

“That person will have all the relevant safety competence – including the skills to evacuate passengers in an emergency.

“The agreement also confirms the terms and conditions under which our members at Southern are employed.

“And the agreement gives our drivers the security of a five-year pay deal, which covers the October 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 pay settlements, through to the end of the franchise.”

Nick Brown, chief operating officer at GTR, said: “This dispute has been difficult for our passengers in particular and we are pleased that we can now move ahead and deliver stability by finally concluding this deal with ASLEF.

“Our trains will be planned to have a second person on board and this has been the arrangement we have operated over the last year.

“More on-train staff are on more trains with more passengers than ever before. The on-board service concept has been welcomed by our passengers across the board.

“Should, in certain circumstances, a train not have that second person on board then it will still be able to run until a replacement can be provided. Avoiding cancellations is key to us delivering a resilient and reliable service across the busiest and most congested part of the UK rail network.

“Driver only operation has been operating safely for 32 years and now accounts for over a third of the UK rail network.”

The RMT’s latest 48-hour strike began today (Wednesday November 8). These will be the 37th and 38th strike days the union has called since April 2016.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “RMT members stand solid, united and determined again this morning in the latest phase of strike action in a raft of separate disputes which are about putting safety, security and access to transport services before the profiteering.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The RMT is playing a political game, however it has backfired as Southern will be running more than 90 per cent of services for passengers.

“This dispute is not about jobs – Southern has already introduced the changes which the unions are striking over and no one has lost their job or any pay as a result – in fact there are more staff on Southern trains.

“It’s also not about safety, as the independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains which have been used in this country for thirty years, are safe.”

Details of Southern services during the strike can be found on Southern’s website.

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