Updated: ASLEF calls Southern overtime ban as RMT plans strikes on three franchises

 

Train drivers' union ASLEF has called an overtime ban on Southern services over the issue of driver only trains while the RMT has announced strikes on Southern and two other franchises.

ASLEF announced that its members will not work overtime on Southern from 4 June aftter talks broke down on Tuesday.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary, said: ‘We have been talking to Southern to try and resolve the outstanding issues in a way which works for drivers, passengers, and the company. Unfortunately, the company has refused to move its position.'

Nick Brown, chief operating officer at Southern’s parent company GTR, said: 'After over five months of intense negotiations and two peace deals agreed and recommended by the ASLEF executive, we are dismayed the union leadership is taking this action, which is designed to impact as many of our passengers as possible.'

The RMT union also met GTR for talks this week but said the company had revealed that 8,216 trains a year will run without an on board supervisor (OBS). GTR’s wish to run trains without a second member of staff has long been a sticking point in the dispute.

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RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘We have met with the company but there is a massive gap of over 8000 trains a year that GTR have confirmed will run without an OBS on board.

‘That represents a serious safety and accessibility risk and short of the guarantee of a second safety qualified member of staff on Southern services we have no option but to confirm a further day of strike action.’

Andy Bindon, HR director at GTR, said: ‘We are hugely disappointed that once again the RMT has called a strike, particularly since we put a further reasonable offer to the union today.

‘The RMT’s proposals would mean cancelling trains and reducing service levels to our passengers. Our service levels are stabilising at the highest we’ve seen in years and we cannot agree to anything which will jeopardise running trains and the service to our passengers.’

The RMT said Arriva Rail North had ‘rejected point blank every attempt to try and broker a safe and sustainable settlement to the dispute’ and that Merseyrail had similarly refused to make any progress over the 'crucial issue' of the safety critical role of the guard.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘Further industrial action is bad for customers, communities and economies in the South who have already faced months of union disruption over the last year.’

 

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