ASLEF and Southern Rail

15 June 2017

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, tonight responded to a press release put out by Southern Railways. Mick said:

‘ASLEF suspended the imposition of an overtime ban on Southern Railways – due to start on Sunday 4 June – for two weeks to allow time for negotiations to find a resolution of all the outstanding issues with the company to be discussed. For the record, we have only ever talked to the company about driver only operation, not about driver controlled operation. That is just one of many inaccuracies in the press release the company has issued.

‘We have been talking to the company, over the last fortnight, in parallel, but separate, talks about drivers’ terms and conditions; industrial relations; and pay.

‘The company’s failure to engage over DOO is the reason our members will no longer work overtime – which, of course, is entirely voluntary – from Thursday 29 June. By giving the company another fortnight, we had hoped to avoid industrial action because industrial action is always the last resort; we would much rather talk, and negotiate, around a table, than take industrial action.

‘As for pay, that is now eight months behind schedule – on a deal that should have been done back in 2016 – but which the company has refused, until now, to negotiate with us.

‘I can categorically state that the company spokesman is lying when he says ASLEF asked GTR to package up an extension of DCO with pay. We did not. That is a blatant lie and a deliberate and malicious attempt to mislead the passengers this company has been letting down, every day, since it got its franchise.

‘GTR should stop letting passengers – and staff – down and stop telling falsehoods. Because this is no way to run a railway.

‘This dispute was started by Peter Wilkinson at the Department for Transport – something he frankly admitted at a public meeting in Croydon last year when he said “They can’t afford to spend too long on strike and I will push them into that place.” This is a dispute devised by Peter Wilkinson and the DfT who have caused misery and heartache for hundreds of thousands of passengers on Southern Rail. It is now time for Chris Grayling to stand up and sort it out.’

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