Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Southern Railway strikes suspended for talks with Transport Secretary

Members of Aslef are also ending a ban on overtime which has disrupted services over the past few weeks.

Planned strikes by Southern Railway drivers and guards have been suspended to allow talks with the Transport Secretary in a bid to resolve bitter disputes over staffing and pay.

Members of Aslef are also ending a ban on overtime which has disrupted services over the past few weeks. They were due to walk out on August 1, 2 and 4 after rejecting a pay offer.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union were also due to take fresh industrial action in the coming weeks. Both unions are embroiled in a long-running dispute over staffing and driver-only trains.

The RMT said it had been contacted by Chris Grayling inviting general secretary Mick Cash to a meeting subject to the suspension of the planned industrial action.

A statement by the union’s executive said: “We therefore suspend the industrial action called for Tuesday 1st August, Wednesday 2nd August, and Friday 4th August, and instruct the general secretary to arrange the meeting and to place back before this NEC an update on the progress of the talks by Tuesday 1st August.”

Eastbourne’s Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd said: “This is a victory for commuters across the South East.

“Finally Chris Grayling has agreed to get around the table and talk to the unions to sort out this long-running dispute.

“Now it’s time to turn this breakthrough into a long-term solution. Long-suffering commuters want to see a compromise reached so we can avoid months more chaos and anguish.”

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.”

bpanews_43f79496-69a3-4d4b-82dc-3cb08edbed1c_embedded743285
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan hopes talks can start soon (Nick Ansell/PA)

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 amended overtime ban timetable will continue until Friday as rosters have already been issued.

Southern plans to run a normal timetable this weekend although there may be some cancellations while drivers start to make themselves available for overtime work.

Southern will reinstate its full weekday service from next Monday.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We welcome the decision by Aslef and RMT to suspend industrial action.

“The Transport Secretary has repeatedly offered to meet Aslef and the RMT if they call off strike action. We look forward to discussing a solution that ensures passengers receive the high-quality rail services that they deserve.”

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph