ASLEF is joining the call for Southern to be stripped of its franchise.
The train drivers’ union is hitting back at what it calls ‘misleading press statements’ put out by rail operator.
General Secretary of ASLEF, Mick Whelan, said, “It is indefensible that GTR/Southern and the inept Department for Transport continue to peddle misinformation and attack those whose goodwill they rely on to run their services. The company has – with no censure from the DfT – kept driver complements artificially low. The company relies on drivers working voluntary overtime to run at least 25% of its services; while we, as a union, strive for full employment to help deliver a first-class public service. There would be no requirement for voluntary overtime if Southern recruited staff properly – if the company recruited the right number of drivers to run the services it has promised passengers to deliver.
“I’m quite sure that if we sought a guarantee of these payments it would not be forthcoming. We are disgusted and will be asking for GTR/Southern to be stripped of the franchise as all stakeholders, employees, the travelling public, and taxpayers we talk to have lost all faith in Southern Fail to deliver.
“And if any driver is verbally abused, threatened or attacked after the company has deliberately and maliciously sought to inflame the situation by peddling lies then we reserve the right to do whatever is necessary to protect our members – on Southern Rail and nationally.
“Those free newspapers which promote such a situation should be removed from all railway and Underground stations which, of course, any good employer with a duty of care would support.”
This comes the week after Southern offered train drivers a substantial pay rise to call off their overtime ban, due to come into force later this month. ASLEF and Southern have been locked in a bitter and long-running dispute over the introduction of driver-only trains, which has also seen the RMT Union taking action.