ASLEF on GTR Agreement
07 February 2017
ASLEF announced, on Thursday 2 February, that it had reached an agreement with Southern Railways. On Friday 3 February ballot papers and a copy of the proposed agreement were dispatched to members to vote in a referendum on whether or not to accept the deal. Yesterday (Monday 6 February) the union briefed reps and tonight (Tuesday 7 February) there is an opportunity for all members on Southern to attend a meeting at Three Bridges. Other branch meetings are also being held.
Simon Weller, assistant general secretary, said: ‘We thought it was right that you, the members, should be the first to see the agreement, in full, before anything was said. But it is now clear that there are some serious misunderstandings about this deal. For clarity:
‘As drivers, we want a second safety-critical person on every train and that is what we have got. This deal guarantees a second person on Southern trains. There are some exceptions, to allow trains to run without a second safety-critical person, and they are the same as they are at the moment, with two exceptions: [i] unauthorised absence, such as when an OBS, who has been booked, has a flat tyre at very short notice on the way to work, and a train can be run driver only while they find another OBS; [ii] a pandemic, a sort of “zombie apocalypse”, but such mass sickness will, of course, affect drivers as much as other grades.
‘It has been suggested that this deal is a strike breaker’s charter. It isn’t. Because a strike is a lawful, known absence – that’s why we have a ballot and give seven days’ notice – so a strike cannot be construed as an “unauthorised absence”.
‘The company wanted driver only operation, but that is not what it has got. Drivers might operate the doors but Southern Rail trains will run, with rare exceptions, with two safety-critical people on board.
‘Looking to the future, we want to negotiate – we will do a deal – but we are not going to have new working conditions imposed. Southern knows that now.’
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