MP calls for unions to end Southern dispute

Maria Caulfield, Lewes MP, at Lewes Railway Station (photo submitted/ by Nick Robinson). SUS-150728-140612001
Maria Caulfield, Lewes MP, at Lewes Railway Station (photo submitted/ by Nick Robinson). SUS-150728-140612001

Lewes MP has met with unions bosses to call for an end to the Southern rail dispute today (Tuesday July 18).

Train drivers’ union ASLEF has introduced a ban on overtime working in response to Govia Thameslink Railway’s driver-only operation proposals, and is due to hold three days of strike action at the start of August in a separate dispute over pay.

Meanwhile the RMT union, which represents conductors who have been transferred to the role of on-board supervisor, has instructed its members not to book any shifts on the same three days.

Driver-only operation is when drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors, as unions have raised concerns about the potential loss of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services.

In a meeting in Parliament this morning (Tuesday July 18). between MPs and union bosses Lewes MP Maria Caulfield told ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan that her constituents have had 18 months of delays, disruptions and rail replacements, and that now is the time to be around the table to resolve the long running dispute.

Afterwards she said: “ASLEF are still saying that the strike is about the role of the second member of staff on the train and yet a second person has been guaranteed on every train.

“In the last six months since the driver only changes were introduced, less than three per cent of trains have run without a second person on board.

“The trains have operated on the Southern network since January with this new system and the Thameslink trains have operated for years on the same line, stopping at the same stations, often using the same drivers with no problems. It’s time that the unions and Southern put passengers first and resolve their long running dispute.

“All sides must take their share of the blame, but it is just not fair on residents who have had enough. They just want to be able to go about their day without the misery on the railways.”

“Southern and the unions need to be back around the table thinking of the passengers and resolving their differences to end this dispute.”