13 Days Remaining

Saturday 17th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

SOUTHERN Railway services were at a standstill again yesterday as another 24-hour walkout went ahead amid a fresh row over the failed attempts to avert drivers’ strikes.

Talks at the conciliation service Acas between the company and Aslef ended without agreement on Thursday.

Aslef leader Mick Whelan has written to all its members on Southern Railways as the toxic dispute over the introduction of driver-only trains continued to escalate.

He appeared to criticise suggestions from Southern following the collapse of talks that the company had made a “practical offer,” which Aslef did not accept.

Mr Whelan wrote: “Members will be aware that talks between ourselves and GTR Southern have been taking place under the auspices of Acas in order to seek a resolution to the current dispute.

“I regret to advise that at no time during the course of discussions did the company make any kind of formal offer in relation to the substantive issues at the heart of the dispute.

“Aslef remains committed to finding a negotiated settlement as we have already done with ScotRail.”

Yesterday’s strike was the third time this week that no Southern trains ran, causing huge problems for commuters and other travellers.

A group of passengers staged a protest at London’s Victoria station on Thursday night and handed in a letter to the Department for Transport, demanding government action to end the crisis.

Protesters also delivered a toy train set to the department as they called for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to resign.

A spokesman for protest organisers the Association of British Commuters said: “We have suffered a year-long nightmare because of the collapse of Southern Rail.

“We have desperately called for government action and have been repeatedly ignored — even while many of us have lost our jobs, or had to move house.”

Southern was due to cancel all of its 2,242 weekday services yesterday, hitting around 300,000 passengers.

A Southern spokesman said: “We put a practical offer on the table for the union to consider and explored a number of initiatives with it.

“We’re pleased that the union did acknowledge and welcomed our attempts to find solutions but, regrettably, it simply would not shift from its position.

“We urge the union to think again and work with us and move forward together.”