Thursday, May 30

Southern Railway strike cut to three days but further action likely



A six-day strike by drivers on Southern Railway has been halved but unions warn there is likely to be further action in the long-running dispute over driver-only trains.

Members of the Aslef union were due to walk out from Tuesday 10 January which have halted services for the entire week but now say they action will end early and trains will be running as normal from the 14th.

But General Secretary Mick Whelan said the move did not mean the union was rolling back and warned of further strikes.

He said the union’s executive will meet later in the month and there was a likelihood more strikes will be called.

The union said it had reduced the stoppage out of consideration for how long the dispute will last and its effect on passengers.

Southern Railway customers have suffered months of disruption because of industrial action, staff shortages and other problems with the service.

Aslef has banned its members from taking overtime which is leading to services being cancelled or delayed every day.

Mr Whelan said: We are taking a longer-term view of this trade dispute. The company has not been prepared to move it is simply going through the motions, turning up at ACAS, as it did yesterday, and telling us that it intends to impose (drive-only trains).

We remain committed to a negotiated settlement, as was reached with ScotRail, but it is difficult to negotiate with people who are not prepared to be flexible.

We still believe a deal can be done but we are, at the moment, a long way from that position. It is time for the company to come up with a genuine offer rather than carry on posturing.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is also embroiled in a dispute with Southern over changes to the role of conductors, which has led to a series of strikes.

The ongoing strikes during which Southern Rail advised passengers not to travel on 13th December regardless of whether their High Court bid to block the appeal was successful.

Aslef drivers went out on strike between 13th and 14th December while RMT conductors walked out between 19th and 20th December and between New Year’s Eve and 2nd January.

Commuters have reported losing, or being forced to give up, their jobs or take anti-depressants due to the stress of getting to and from work.

The dispute, which began in the summer, is over plans by Govia Southern Railway’s parent company to make drivers close the doors on trains themselves rather than having a conductor onboard.

Govia has insisted this will not involve any redundancies but Aslef and the RMT say this will make train journeys unsafe and said the routes were already understaffed.

A spokesman for Southern Railway said: This is a cynical ploy to minimise the impact on Aslef’s drivers’ pay packets and maximises misery, disruption and hardship for passengers.

ASLEF’s move shows pure contempt for the travelling public and it still causes massive disruption over next week.

These strikes are pointless and they should call the whole thing off and let common sense prevail.