There’s welcome news for train commuters in Eastbourne today (2 February).
The TUG General Secretary has announced a deal has been reached between the ASLEF union and Southern over the dispute about driver-only trains.
No details have yet been given and the deal is subject to a referendum of ASLEF members on 16 February.
The negotiations, which have been going on for two weeks, were jointly chaired by Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, and Andy Meadows, HR Director of Abellio UK.
Frances and Andy said, “The negotiators from both sides have worked hard and co-operatively to achieve this breakthrough. We have particularly appreciated the positive leadership shown by Nick Brown and Mick Whelan. This long-running dispute has clearly been extraordinarily difficult for both staff and passengers, and we are glad that the parties have reached agreement on a way forward.”
Frances O’Grady added, “I welcome the decision of ASLEF to consult its members on the new offer that has now been made by GTR Southern. The TUC is pleased that we were able to play a part in finding a positive way forward."
Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, said, “I am pleased that we have finally been able to reach an agreement with the company which reflects the concerns of train drivers. I believe this deal can deliver a safer and appropriately staffed railway for passengers on Southern rail and I will be recommending it to ASLEF members.”
Nick Brown, GTR’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “Our aim has always been to reach agreement with the unions on our proposals and we're delighted to have secured a deal today with ASLEF to end their dispute. It's good news for passengers, the regional economy and staff. After the misery and disruption to people's work and family lives, we are pleased we can start to move forward and deliver a better railway for the travelling public.”
However, one party in the dispute is still not happy, after the RMT Union was excluded from the talks. General Secretary Mick Cash said, “RMT was not party to the talks brokered by the TUC with GTR. As a result of that we have no details whatsoever on any deal that has been agreed by the parties who were granted a seat at the table.
“Consequently, we have no information on what impact any deal that may have been reached will have on nearly 500 guards who have been involved in an industrial dispute over safety for the best part of a year. That is an appalling way for that group of workers to be treated.
“RMT’s dispute remains on. The union is aware of the offer of further talks from the company. Once we have the full details of the deal that has been struck today, and an assurance that the terms of reference of those talks will focus on the retention of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services, we can agree an immediate date for negotiations to commence.”
GTR Chief Operating Officer Nick Brown has responded saying, "We are ready, willing and able to meet with the RMT."