Posted 6th February 2017 | 7 Comments

ASLEF DOO settlement 'a disgrace' says RMT

THE implications of the settlement between ASLEF and Govia Thameslink Railway over Southern DOO are emerging in the wake of Thursday's announcement, with the RMT angered by the details, which were not released immediately. There are also reports that some ASLEF drivers will oppose the deal.

Most of the original Southern plan has been preserved, including moving the responsibility for the doors and train dispatch to drivers. A second member of staff will normally be carried on each train, but not necessarily with specific route knowledge.

The provision that trains would be able to run with only a driver in 'exceptional circumstances' has also been maintained. This would apply in cases of absence or illness, or if the on-board supervisor had been obliged to leave a train en route to deal with an emergency, such as a passenger taken ill.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said the result was 'no utopia' but it had established important principles, including an undertaking that further operational changes would need the consent of drivers. He added: "“People forget the original dispute was about imposition.”

However, Mick Cash of the RMT, whose union had been excluded from the talks with ASLEF at the TUC, described the deal as a 'disgrace'.

He said: "This so-called agreement is a shocking betrayal presided over by the TUC of not only the conductor grade and drivers, but also passengers, including disabled passengers, who have lost the guarantee of a second member of staff on their trains.

"This abysmal document lists a whole host of areas where a train can leave without a second member of staff, that will leave both the driver and passengers exposed and vulnerable, and which also represents a thin end of the wedge that will lead to the de-staffing of trains.

"Loyal and dedicated conductors, who have fought for safety for over a year, have had the legs kicked from under them by those who are supposed to be on their side.

"Passengers and staff alike have been sold out by a stitch-up cooked up in Congress House by the TUC and the bosses whilst Southern, one of the most anti-union and hated companies of recent times, is laughing all the way to the bank and have been given a free run to rip up the safety rulebook in the name of profits.

"This is not a deal, it is a disgrace, and the RMT dispute remains on."

The RMT has now been invited to fresh tralks. Transport secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC: "I hope that’s a way forward for the future, and I very much hope now that the RMT will come back to the table and will sort out an arrangement that looks after its own members.”

He added: “I don’t believe we need fewer people on the railways – a railway bursting at the seams will not mean fewer jobs. We’re going to need as many staff in the future – the jobs may change, the technology may change, but the customer service piece can’t change.”

ASLEF members on Southern are now receiving ballot papers so that they can vote for or against the proposed deal. The result of the referendum is expected on 16 February.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Phil, West Sussex

    Looks like a fair compromise to me. In the vast majority of occasions there will still be a 2nd member of staff on the train but it will mean a much more reliable service preventing a train from being cancelled at short notice when the second member of staff is unavailable for any reason.

    Note Thameslink, London Overground etc. run perfectly fine without any second member of staff at all - so Southern could potentially have gone much much further with their DOO changes.

    The RMT need to be prepared to accept this reasonable compromise the as ASLEF have done.

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    Mick Whelan say's " This dispute was costing ASLEF members money in lost overtime and wages"

    Wait a second Mick. Why did your union put begging letters in the pigeon holes of drivers all over the North Of England asking them to support the so called 'DOO fighting fund'

    Where did any money from that go and what was it for? Was it to pay for sandwiches at the 11 day capitulation fest with the TUC.

  • Chris, Longstock

    Now the future of urban rail transport is DOO, is it not?

    Only 25 years ago the future of urban railways were driverless trains with a guard who operates the doors, e.g.. Docklands Light Railway

    Which will it be?

  • Lee, Manchester

    Tony Pearce, Reading
    "There is no need for both the RMT and ASLEF. There should be one Union which works out in advance a common position for all their Members including who is going to do what and what compensation and rewards are required. These 3-way negotiations just damage the Industry and cause problems for the long-suffering Passengers who can do nothing about it."

    Only problem with your idea is that if the one Union is like the RMT, nothing happens. At least with two Unions there is some chance of maintaining some sort of service while the other Union has a tantrum!

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    What puzzles me is why ASLEF got involved in the first place. Acting like 'The Grand Old Duke Of York' they march their members up the hill, than march them down again cost them money in the process, and end up with a deal that is exactly the same if not worse. What a union,
    What frightened you Mr Whelan, the threat of losing in the supreme court wiping out your assets? Pathetic.

    But what about this so called idea itself. So we find ourselves in this bizarre situation where a OBS could put a wheelchair passenger on the train in London, end up being left at a station, and the passenger having nobody to get them off. Who in their right mind other than 'Charles Horton' could think up such rubbish. Oh wait a minute, 'Mick Whelen' thinks it's a wheeze also.
    You need to make contact with reality Mick, because never since the days of Arthur Scargill' has a union made itself look so ridiculous. If I was a member of ASLEF' I'd be cancelling my subscription and looking towards a union that at least has principles left, the RMT.

  • Philip Russel , Carlisle

    This seems like a good deal, however I suspect some of their members were hoping for something more akin to the almost total management capitulation the two unions achieved in the recent Scotrail settlement, so may vote against this

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    There is no need for both the RMT and ASLEF. There should be one Union which works out in advance a common position for all their Members including who is going to do what and what compensation and rewards are required. These 3-way negotiations just damage the Industry and cause problems for the long-suffering Passengers who can do nothing about it.

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