ASLEF and RMT unions suspend industrial action on Southern Rail

Updated on Thursday, July 20: ASLEF and RMT unions have suspended industrial action affecting Southern rail commuters now that Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling has agreed to meet them to discuss a resolution to their disputes.

ASLEF confirmed it would suspend its industrial action, including an overtime ban, with immediate effect.

The RMT has also confirmed the suspension of drivers and guards strike action on Southern after the approach for direct talks from the Secretary of State which follows a call from the unions, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and other groups.

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “ASLEF is committed to resolving matters as soon as possible while safeguarding the interests of our members, and the safety of passengers particularly those with disabilities. We hope talks can start as soon as possible and, ideally, within the week.”

A spokesman for Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway said: “We are delighted on behalf of our passengers. We truly hope that a resolution can be found once and for all.”

The spokesman added the amended overtime ban timetable will continue until tomorrow (Friday) as rosters have already been issued against the amended timetable.

“On Saturday and Sunday we plan to perate the normal timetable, although there may be some cancellations while drivers start to make themselves available for overtime work.

“From Monday we plan to reinstate the full weekday service.”

Uckfield News story on Thursday, July 13:

Train drivers’ union, ASLEF, has called for strikes to take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, August 1, 2 and 4.

Members voted 514 (61.8%) in favour of strikes in a pay dispute while 318 (38.2%) voted against. The turnout was 80.8%, 1032 papers were issued and 835 returned.

Mick Whelan, general secretary, said: “Now is the time for Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport to step in and assist in finding a resolution to a problem they caused.”

The union says that in a separate dispute with the company, over the attempted introduction, without negotiation, of driver only operation on some routes, train drivers are not working overtime.

It says Southern Rail has consistently failed to employ enough drivers to deliver the services it promised, in its franchise application, to provide to passengers and is, therefore, dependent on the goodwill of staff to volunteer to work overtime.

The RMT union also planns strike action by its drivers on August 1, 2, and 4.

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway, parent company of Southern, operators of the Uckfield Line, said:

“To call three days of strikes spread across a week is a deliberate move to cause maximum disruption for passengers. To do so in protest against an offer to increase pay by 24% is simply breathtaking. Commuters, the vast majority of whom are seeing pay rises many times less, will understandably be as shocked and frustrated as we are.

“We absolutely need to modernise in order to increase capacity on this, the most congested part of the UK’s network, where passenger numbers have doubled in places in as little as 12 years. That requires modernisation of infrastructure, trains and working practices. The trade unions must join us in that endeavour.”

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