Southern Rail crisis: Aslef union offers to suspend strikes if Southern agrees to TUC mediation

A Southern Rail employee stands on an empty platform during a recent strike

The strikes on Southern Rail have brought misery to thousands of commuters

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The union at the heart of the Southern Rail crisis has offered to suspend its programme of industrial action if the company agrees to talks hosted by the Trades Union Congress.

The offer by drivers' union Aslef potentially signals an end to the year-long programme of strikes which have brought misery to thousands of commuters across London and the south-east.

Talks have been taking place between Southern, Aslef and the RMT, which represents train guards, at the specialist mediation service Acas. However the talks, which began in controversy when RMT boss Mick Cash was barred, have yet to yield a breakthrough.

Aslef and the RMT claim that Southern's plan to move to driver-only operated trains, and thus get rid of the guards, is unsafe and will put passengers at risk on one of Britain's busiest rail routes.

Southern, for its part, claims the unions have taken an unreasonable stance with their repeated walkouts and have rejected perfectly reasonably compromise proposals. The company even invited customers to tweet the RMT union with messages of anger and frustration - a campaign it subsequently admitted was misguided.

The Association of British Commuters, which was formed to represent passengers affected by the ongoing disruption, has told talkRADIO that the Department for Transport has handled the situation poorly and its role in the current impasse has been overlooked.