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One year on, no end in sight for Southern rail dispute

Rail workers staged a protest outside Parliament today in their long-running dispute with the train operator Southern.

Members of the RMT union are still fighting the introduction of driver-only operation. Southern says the changes it's brought in free up staff to help commuters.

The year-long dispute has seen 31 strike days. In 2016, almost sixty thousand Southern services were either fully or partly cancelled. It's the longest dispute on the railways since 1994.

But disabled passengers in particular say the service has gone from bad to worse. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Unions condemn Southern boss's "telephone number" salary

Unions have condemned the news that the head of Southern Rail has received a pay package of nearly half a million pounds.

Charles Horton was paid nearly £500,000 despite the company having been hit by more than 30 days of industrial action by the RMT and Aslef unions over the past year.

The RMT's General Secretary, Mick Cash, said he is "astounded" by the salary:

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RMT on ASLEF's decision: It reflects the deep seated concern amongst drivers

Train drivers at Southern have again rejected a deal for a Driver Only Operation.

The RMT has released a statement following ASLEF members' decision.

This ballot was entirely a matter for ASLEF and its members. However, the result reflects the continuing and deep seated concern amongst drivers and the wider workforce over the extension of DOO and the safety impact on passenger services.

Southern Rail cannot jam their heads in the sand any longer. We are in talks with the company tomorrow and we now expect the fundamental issues at the heart of our guards' and drivers' disputes to be taken seriously.

There's an easy solution to this long running industrial dispute and Southern Rail need to join with the unions in reaching an agreement that protects passengers and which recognises the safety critical issues our members have been fighting for over the past year."

– Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT

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Deal rejected on Southern and more strikes can't be ruled out

Train drivers at Southern have again rejected a deal for a Driver Only Operation. It means more strikes can't be ruled out.

It is the second time the deal has been put to members in the year long dispute - and thrown out.

More strikes likely on Southern trains Credit: PA Images

Under the proposed agreement drivers would continue to close train doors and in some "extreme" situations would drive trains without a second member of staff on board.

This has long been the sticking point. The unions had insisted on a safety trained second member of staff on every train.

After weeks of talks ASLF, the drivers' union, hammered out a deal that would mean only in exceptional circumstances would a driver work a train alone.

There were promises to improve in-cab cameras used to monitor doors.

However this has again been rejected.

The other union involved, the RMT, which has staged 31 days of strikes continues to insist on a second member of staff on every train.

Bosses are due to meet Southern tomorrow for talks.They have a strike planned for Saturday.

However it is Aslef which causes the most disruption with most services cancelled if they strike. By using managers they can run 90% of trains during RMT action.

The dispute centres on a move by Southern to change the role of guards to On-Board Supervisors.

They no longer close doors but spend more time with passengers. The company says the move is safe and in use on forty per cent of trains. Managers promise no job or pay cuts. They say only is exceptional circumstances would a train run without an OBS but it would be a better alternative to cancelling a train.

The RMT says it is not safe and passengers are at risk. It insists there should be a safety critical second member of staff on every train.

Figures reveal majority of Southern trains late despite 'normal service' promise

Credit: PA

Official figures have revealed almost 75% of trains on Southern were late yesterday, the first day the company said it would operate a normal service after months of strikes. Just 26% of trains on the Brighton mainline were on time, rising to fewer than 60% arriving within five minutes which is the industry standard.

The figures are worse than the previous day which had a strike by RMT conductors when 40% of trains were on time.

The company says it is running a full service now that the drivers union ASLEF has called off strikes this week while peace talks continue and guards are working new contracts which mean they no longer close train doors.

The other union involved in the dispute, the RMT, will hold drivers strikes tomorrow and Friday but as they only have twelve members it is not expected to cause any extra disruption.

Southern say they are committed to improving services and it was impacted because extra services were diverted to Victoria because of a derailment that badly disrupted Southeastern. ​

Govia Thameslink Railway (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink) publishes its performance statistics for the previous day by 12pm the following day.

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