This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 03/04/2017.
Aslef drivers reject deal to end dispute with Southern Rail for the second time this year
Train drivers who are members of the Aslef union have rejected a deal which would have ended the dispute with Southern Rail.
It is the second deal this year which has been put to the union, which represents about 950 drivers, and subsequently refused by its members.
On February 16 members voted against the previous deal by a majority of 54 per cent to 46 per cent.
Another agreement was put to the members in March, but it has again been rejected, this time by a majority of 51.8 per cent to 48.2 per cent.
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.”
Commenting on the result, Andy Bindon of Govia Thameslink Railway, Southern’s parent company, 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.”
It was hoped that the proposed deal would bring an end to the dispute which centred around Southern’s plans to bring in driver-only operated (DOO) trains.
Mr Whelan had previously expressed drivers’ fears that it would be less safe than having on-board supervisors – previously called conductors – opening and closing doors.
Mr Whelan said this method was not safe because of poor camera equipment and bad lighting at certain stations across the Southern network, meaning drivers would not always be able to see well enough to know when it was safe to close and open them.
As a result the union took strike action on several days in December, and in January the union’s drivers were also instructed by Aslef to take part in an overtime ban which caused added disruption on non-strike days for passengers who saw a large number of services delayed, cancelled or altered at the last minute.
Aslef have been approached for comment.