Southern train drivers reject second union deal

Southern train PPP-160519-120213001
Southern train PPP-160519-120213001
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Southern train drivers have rejected a second deal negotiated by union leaders with rail bosses.

An agreement reached between ASLEF’s leadership and rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway was rejected by union members back in February by 54 to 46 per cent.

A fresh ballot on a second deal was held last month and this too has been rejected by the majority of the union’s membership by 51.8 to 48.2 per cent.

The dispute is over the introduction of driver-only operation on Southern services, where drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors.

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 Bindon, of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “It’s a hugely disappointing outcome for our passengers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the ASLEF leadership.

“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.”

The RMT union, which is also in dispute with GTR over the changes, is due to hold its latest strike on Saturday April 8.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “This ballot was entirely a matter for ASLEF and its members. However, the result reflects the continuing and deep seated concern amongst drivers and the wider workforce over the extension of DOO and the safety impact on passenger services.

“Southern Rail cannot jam their heads in the sand any longer. We are in talks with the company tomorrow and we now expect the fundamental issues at the heart of our guards’ and drivers’ disputes to be taken seriously.

“There’s an easy solution to this long running industrial dispute and Southern Rail need to join with the unions in reaching an agreement that protects passengers and which recognises the safety critical issues our members have been fighting for over the past year.”

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