Train drivers accept Southern rail deal

Members of the ASLEF union have voted to accept a deal over pay, terms and conditions, and driver-only operation.

The pay deal is worth 28.5% over the next 5 years, and will take the driver’s basic salary to £63,000 for a four-day week.

However the RMT union, which mostly represents guards, described it as “shoddy” and “appalling”.

Last year ASLEF joined the RMT union’s long running industrial dispute over the further extension of driver-only operation (DOO).  As part of the ASLEF deal, Southern must aim to have a second safety-trained person on every DOO train.

Drivers will be responsible for opening and closing train doors, with guards transferred to the role of the 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, 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.

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

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 of Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, 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 yesterday (Wednesday) and will last 48-hours. These will be the 37th and 38th strike days the union has called since April 2016.

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.

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