Southern Rail Strike: 'There's a lot more buttons to press than people think,' drivers' union boss tells Julia Hartley-Brewer

Southern Rail Strike:  'it's not just about pressing a button,' train driver boss tells Julia Hartley-Brewer

Southern Rail drivers have gone on strike for 48 hours today

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The president of train drivers' union ASLEF has inisted the work done by his members is far more complicated than people think, and is about far more than a single button.

A 48-hour walkout by ASLEF and fellow rail union the RMT have brought Southern Rail to a total halt. The operator has announced there will be no trains running on any of the Southern Rail routes, leaving more than 300,000 people displaced in the worst disruption in 20 years.

The standoff has been widely described as a dispute over who presses the button to open and close train doors. But in a fiery clash with Julia Hartley-Brewer, ASLEF Union president Tosh McDonald insisted the role of drivers is far more complicated.

McDonald said that "more and more of the safety devices are being replaced by new equipment - there’s more things the drivers have to concentrate on.

“Our members have been telling us more duties have been brought into the cab, more and more duties, and they can't concentrate on passengers as well."

When Julia suggested train drivers earn more than some doctors in the UK, McDonald said the dispute is not about money, but rather the safety of passengers and the avoidance of a future disaster. But when asked by Julia how many people have died in incidents related to train doors in recent years, the union boss admitted the figure was zero.

Julia also suggested that she would be reluctant to get into a lift with McDonald and his members as there'd be a dispute over who pressed the button.

Listen to the interview above.