Belfast Telegraph

Southern Railway drivers expected to accept deal to end dispute

Southern Railway drivers are expected to accept a deal to end a long-running dispute, but their union warned the vote will be affected by their "mistrust" of the company.

Members of Aslef are being balloted on an agreement thrashed out during 11 days of talks aimed at resolving a row over driver-only trains, which has led to strikes.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union attacked the deal as a "shocking betrayal" of workers and passengers.

But Aslef's assistant general secretary Simon Weller said there had been a "misunderstanding", insisting significant gains had been achieved.

He told the Press Association: "We wanted a second, safety-critical person on trains, and that is what we have got.

"There will be some exceptions, such as when someone is taken ill or delayed on their way to work, but they are broadly the same as they have always been.

"It is the arrangement we have with conductors under the old system."

If an on-board supervisor (OBS) - the new role for guards on Southern - is delayed, a train can leave, but the company will have to book on a replacement, said Mr Weller.

He said original plans for drivers to operate trains on their own in the event of further strikes by RMT members were opposed by Aslef and had been dropped.

"They wanted driver-only operation but they have not got driver-only operation."

Mr Weller said he believed the 900 members of Aslef involved in the dispute will vote to accept the deal, but he warned there was a lot of mistrust towards Southern which could affect the outcome.

Aslef officials will explain the deal to a mass meeting of drivers on Tuesday night.

RMT leader Mick Cash has written to Charles Horton, chief executive of Southern's owners Govia Thameslink Railway, saying he will take part in fresh talks over the role of conductors.

He also sent a circular to RMT members criticising the Aslef deal.

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