Union chiefs suspend plans for a three-day strike on Southern Railways in the first sign of a breakthroughJanuary 31, 2022
MILITANT union chiefs today suspended plans for a three-day strike on Southern Railways in the first sign of a breakthrough for long-suffering passengers.
Aslef said it would put another wave of industrial action set for next week on hold after Southern agreed to talks.
The meeting will take place on Wednesday under the joint chairmanship of TUC chief Frances O’Grady and Andy Meadows, head of HR at rail firm Abellio.
It comes amid speculation the train drivers union Aslef is coming under financial strain from having to cover the wages of the members going out on strike.
RMT insisted a separate strike by its guards remained "on" – and demanded a seat at the negotiating table.
The RMT’s guards would become on-board supervisors under the changes.
The talks are the latest twist in a bitter dispute over Southern’s decision to introduce driver-only trains on its network across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
Charles Horton, chief executive of Southern’s owner Govia, said: “We’ve always made clear our willingness to engage in meaningful talks with Aslef to find a route forward to end their dispute."
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He said: "So, together with our passengers and businesses, we warmly welcome their decision to suspend next week’s planned industrial action."
Ministers have urged unions to call off their strikes – claiming that no one will lose their job and no one will suffer a pay cut.
More than 50 Tory MPs at the weekend signed a letter urging the Government to beef up strike laws to protect passengers.
They insisted a judge should rule on whether industrial action on critical public infrastructure is "reasonable and proportionate".
In a statement the Department for Transport "welcomed" Aslef’s offer to suspend action "to allow for a new round of intensive talks aimed at resolving the current dispute".
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