Uckfield Line: more strike misery on the way

Uckfield Line commuters face more strike woes as the dispute between train operator Southern and the ASLEF and RMT unions goes on.

This lunchtime ASLEF has announced that its members have rejected a deal to bring its dispute to an end.

Talks earlier this week with RMT (which represents the conductors/onboard supervisors) failed and the union announced a one-day strike for next week.

The dispute centres on driver only operated trains.

ASLEF STATEMENT

ASLEF drivers have rejected a proposed resolution to the long-running dispute with Southern Railways. The following question was put to our driver members employed by Southern. Do you accept the proposed agreement on driver only operation and related issues on GTR Southern services?

Yes: 317 [45.9%]
No:  374 [54.1%]
Papers despatched: 953
Papers returned: 693
Turnout: 72.7%
Invalid papers: 2
Papers to be counted: 691

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “We understand and support the decision arrived at democratically by our members and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with their expectations.”

RMT STATEMENT

RAIL UNION RMT confirmed that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will strike again on February 22 in the on-going disputes over the safety impact of the extension of Driver Only Operation and the removal of guards from services.

Members will strike for 24 hours between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Wednesday,  February 22.

The union’s statement went on: “The announcement comes after talks between RMT and Southern in the guards dispute were deliberately wrecked yesterday [February 14] by the company as they made a mockery of the negotiating process and chose to completely ignore the safety issues at the heart of the matter.”

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:

“The abject failure by Southern Rail in yesterday’s talks to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action. These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second-safety critical member of staff on their trains.

“Instead they have shifted the goal posts even further and have now created a “strike breakers’ charter” where one of the numerous new conditions where trains can run driver-only is during industrial action.  That is simply scandalous and a measure of the betrayal of our members as a result of the TUC-brokered deal with Southern in the drivers’ dispute.”

“The full detail of Southern’s plan is far worse than anyone could have anticipated. This is dire news, not just for staff, but for passengers who rightly demand a safe, reliable and accessible service. RMT will not walk away from the fight for a railway that puts public safety before private profit.

“It is now down to Southern/GTR to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”

NEXT WEEK’S STRIKE

Rail operator Southern said: “We are currently assessing the resources that will be available to us during the planned industrial action and will provide an update on the train service we plan to operate as soon as details have been finalised.”

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