Next Week’s Southern Rail Strike Suspended

Hope for resolution as train drivers’ union agrees to resume talks

Train drivers’ union ASLEF has called a halt to next week’s three day strike on Southern rail in return for further talks tomorrow (January 18th).

Drivers were to strike in a long-running dispute over the introduction of driver-only operated trains, but have now said that they will negotiate with Govia Thameslink, the owners of Southern rail, if the talks are hosted by Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: “I am today proposing a new process to try and find a resolution to our industrial dispute with Southern rail. We propose that ASLEF and Southern engage in intensive talks under the auspices of the TUC, and as soon as possible.

“Given the implications of this dispute for the wider railway industry, I am also asking the Secretary of State for Transport to support this new process.

“ASLEF believes that the best way to resolve the dispute at Southern is for all parties to engage in meaningful talks – without preconditions – aimed at finding an agreed way forward.”

In response to the announcement by ASLEF today, Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, said, “We've always made clear our willingness to engage in meaningful talks with ASLEF to find a route forward to end their dispute.

“So, together with our passengers and businesses, we warmly welcome their decision to suspend next week's planned industrial action. This is an important and significant development for the travelling public and the regional economy and our focus and efforts now will be on productive talks with the union and trying to find a solution and a way forward. We are grateful to Frances O'Grady and Andy Meadows for agreeing to chair jointly this important new round of talks and they have our unequivocal endorsement and support."

Meanwhile a separate strike by transport workers union the RMT, on Monday January 23th, is still due to go ahead. RMT members are also taking action against driver-only operated trains.

January 17, 2017

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