The RMT union is to take part in fresh talks with Southern train bosses over the long-running dispute with guards.
The news emerged a day after Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Southern, and train drivers’ union Aslef agreed a deal which is now subject to a vote by about 930 Aslef members.
An RMT spokesman said earlier today (Friday 3 February): “We can confirm that we have had a formal offer of talks from GTR.
“That offer will be considered by RMT’s executive later today. The union will be making no further comment until the executive has met.”
And this afternoon the RMT said that the union had accepted the offer of talks aimed at ending the dispute over driver-only operated trains.
According to The Times newspaper today, Aslef has won a guarantee from Southern “that a second staff member would man every train – the sticking point at the centre of the row”. Some trains may run with only a driver in “exceptional circumstances”.
Yesterday general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT was not party to the talks brokered by the TUC with GTR. As a result of that we have no details whatsoever on any deal that has been agreed by the parties who were granted a seat at the table.
“Consequently, we have no information on what impact any deal that may have been reached will have on nearly 500 guards who have been involved in an industrial dispute over safety for the best part of a year. That is an appalling way for that group of workers to be treated.
“RMT’s dispute remains on. The union is aware of the offer of further talks from the company.
“Once we have the full details of the deal that has been struck today and an assurance that the terms of reference of those talks will focus on the retention of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services, we can agree an immediate date for negotiations to commence.”
Southern is ending the traditional role of guards or conductors on new trains. Instead those who were guards have become on-board supervisers.
The RMT and Aslef have called strikes and instructed members not to work overtime since the dispute started.
But services have been poor even without industrial action because Southern employed too few staff to cover its timetable. As a result it relied on goodwill and voluntary overtime at a time when goodwill has been evaporating.
The company’s problems were also exacerbated by the modernisation of London Bridge Station.
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