Southern rail settle year long dispute with train drivers but guards still unhappy

Published on : Friday, February 3, 2017

southern railFor more than a year-long misery for one-third of a million commuters on the Southern rail network, there now seems to have a good news.



Aslef and GTR Southern have reached an agreement following an extensive talk amongst the RMT union, Aslef union and Frances O’Grady. It said, “For the avoidance of any doubt, this means that subject to a referendum of Aslef members on Southern, the dispute between Aslef and Southern is over.” Members of Aslef have been staging an overtime ban, with several bouts of all-out strikes that brought the network to a standstill. Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said the agreement with the train operator, GTR Southern, has “the full recommendation” of both the negotiating team and the union’s executive committee.



The drivers have agreed the basic principle of extending “Driver Only Operation” (DOO) across the network and the details of the deal have not been revealed. Aslef members are expecting to endorse the agreement in a vote early next week. However, the biggest dispute on the railways since privatisation two decades ago is far from over.



In the talks between Southern and Aslef, the RMT union which represents the train guards were not involved.


The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Cash, described the process as “appalling” and said that they have no details whatsoever on any deal that has been agreed by the parties who were granted a seat at the table. Nick Brown, chief operating officer of Southern, however, said that they are open to talks with the RMT at any time.



The tone of the RMT’s response indicates that the union will continue to demand that the guard must operate the doors while the Department for Transport still insists on modernisation.


Meanwhile, Southern commuters will note the combative tone of the RMT leader’s assertion: “We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train.”

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