Socialist Worker

Aslef union leaders strike another rotten deal with Southern bosses

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2546

Aslef union members on the picket line

Aslef union members on the picket line (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Aslef union leaders and bosses at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern rail, have agreed a deal to be voted on by train drivers.

But as with a previous deal it accepts extending driver only operation, contrary to the union’s stated opposition of that method of train operation.

Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said that the deal “offers solutions to our concerns, as well as restoring the confidence of all parties, and the travelling public”.

Govia’s human resources director Andy Bindon said, “We’ve had constructive talks with Aslef, and we’re pleased we’ve been able to secure a recommended deal.”

But Martin, a Southern driver and Aslef member, thinks it’s “still not good enough”.

He was one of the 54 percent of members that rejected the last shoddy deal recommended by the Aslef leadership. Martin said there was “nothing really new” in the “tweaked” deal and the “general feel was still against” at a joint branch meeting of members last night.

He reported, “The consensus at the meeting was to reject and force them back into talks.”

Martin pointed out that the deal conflicts with the union’s charter, “nor does it address the safety concerns the general secretary has stated in every press appearance prior to the first offer”.

Capitulation

“It's nothing but a capitulation. Here and now is the time to resist it.”

Drivers will vote on the deal in a ballot ending 3 April. The last vote was close and there are worries that the small tweaks could see the new deal narrowly accepted.

But drivers can be convinced to reject the offer if activists argue for a strategy of reinstating the industrial action that forced bosses to negotiate.

Whelan has insisted this is the best that can be achieved. That’s only true if Aslef leaders stick to “constructive talks” and decline to exercise the real power of their membership.

It has been clear from the past year that Govia is not interested in anything but getting its own way. It is willing to use any means necessary to achieve its Tory-backed objectives.

Drivers need to match their determination and be willing to reinstate the walkouts that brought the network to a standstill.

They can and should strike alongside RMT members, who are fighting Southern too. This week’s coordinated strikes by Southern, Northern and Merseyrail workers are the way forward.

Only action will stop the Tories’ favourite rail firm getting what it wants.


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