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Southern Railway staff to vote on deal to end driver-only trains dispute

Ballot papers are being sent to members of Aslef, with a recommendation to accept.

Drivers on Southern Railway are to start voting on whether to accept a proposed deal to end their long dispute over driver-only trains.

Ballot papers are being sent to members of Aslef, with a recommendation to accept.

The drivers have rejected two previous attempts to reach an agreement.

The proposal is for a 28% pay rise and agreement that trains will have a second, safety-trained person on board, apart from “exceptional circumstances”.

It is understood that following months of talks, these have been reduced to three exceptions, to start on January 2:

:: Late notification of sickness, defined as less than two hours before booking on time;

:: On board supervisor (OBS) displaced by service disruption, late-running trains or being left behind on a platform;

:: OBS unable to continue duty having started work, for example through sickness, or having to leave the service to help a passenger or deal with an emergency.

The proposed deal is believed to read: “In all of the above circumstances, arrangements must be made to restore OBS presence to the service in question at the earliest opportunity.”

Neither Aslef nor Southern would comment on the exceptional circumstances included in the proposal.

The ballot result will be announced on November 8.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union remains in dispute with Southern over the role of guards.

The RMT wrote to its members saying the proposed deal accepts the “wholly bogus” principle that it can be beneficial for passengers and drivers to run trains without an OBS.

“RMT has now seen the details and it is clear that this deal, cooked up by Southern Rail under the direction of the Government, seeks to pitch worker against worker in a drive to dismantle the safety culture and drive back the boundaries of driver-only operation.

“It is tainted by the linkage to pay and staff should remain united and reject the package rather than give the bosses and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling the whip hand.

“Staff on Southern Rail have stood united and determined in the teeth of the company attacks on safety, security and access for over 20 months now and this is no time to allow the company and the government to shatter that unity.

“The consequences of giving them a free hand would be horrific for staff and passengers alike. RMT will be campaigning for rejection of the proposals.”

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