This is the text of a special bulletin produced by supporters of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers, urging ASLEF drivers on Southern to vote to reject the deal aimed at settling the dispute over "Driver Only Operation" (DOO).
To download a PDF copy of the bulletin for distribution, click here.
The settlement that has come out of the talks between ASLEF and Southern at the TUC represents possibly the worst sell out of workers in recent memory.
Many workers were fearing the worst - given the fact that RMT were excluded from the talks and the fact that the TUC's track record in intervening in disputes is a dismal one - but what has emerged from two weeks of highly secretive talks is mind-boggingly awful.
It is hard to fathom how the ASLEF leadership is going to convince its members on Southern that this is acceptable. In reality it does almost nothing to protect drivers from having to run trains that would previously have required a guard as DOO:
The list of "Agreed reasons to run without an OBS (On Board Supervisor)" runs as long as your arm and includes lateness, sickness and routine delays.
In other words, GTR are not obliged to provide OBS cover at all for those services!
Dispatch responsibilities are transferred to the driver, with OBS assisting with train dispatch *only* in 'degraded' situations and *only* where they are both present on the service in question and hold the required safety competency.
The agreement includes a commitment to 'explore the scope and feasibility of an indemnity scheme for drivers'. In reality there is no way an employer can indemnify an employee from prosecution.
If the driver closes the doors and goes and someone is hurt and killed as a result, nothing GTR says or does can protect them - it will be for the courts to decide whether they are culpable.
THIS AGREEMENT GOES BACK ON EVERYTHING ASLEF HAS BEEN SAYING ABOUT SAFE TRAIN DISPATCH.
The rest of this shoddy agreement is promises of Jam Tomorrow and/or Pie in the Sky:
Appendix D - 'Technology improvement' contains an agreement that GTR and ASLEF will 'work together to develop improved safe systems of work'. There is little detail about exactly what these improvements will be, subjects them to the 'exigencies of service' and does not commit to fully introduce the improvements until autumn 2020! How many drivers will be prosecuted for PTI safety incidents between now and then?
ASLEF has settled disputes on the back of such vague commitments before, such as at Northern Rail where they settled a pay dispute with a paltry increase to the company's previous offer and promises of future talks on a 'retention package' to follow. What happened? Almost nothing came out of those talks.
EMPLOYERS CANNOT BE TRUSTED. DISPUTES CANNOT BE SETTLED ON PROMISES FOR THE FUTURE.
Off the Rails says:
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