PRESS RELEASE – 5 January 2017

MarshLink travel services next week – but the devil may be in the detail

For rail users, next week’s good news, arguably, is that ASLEF has reduced the number of strike days next week from six to three – strike days for next week are now on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The further, again arguably, good news is that Southern say they will be operating a bus replacement service between Ashford and Hastings on strike days.

 

But beware, the problems may well be in the detail. Last Friday (30 December, a non-strike day) there were no trains on the MarshLink, we are told because of a shortage of train crews resulting from the ASLEF overtime ban (so a reason beyond the strike). Another concern is whether the eastbound replacement buses will be full by the time they reach Rye – MLAG has asked Southern whether there will be buses starting from Rye, answer awaited.

 

Further into the future, ASLEF have announced strikes on 24, 25 and 27 January.

 

But what has been happening behind the scenes to try to resolve the differences between the unions and Southern. The Chief Executive Officer of Southern has announced that, in ACAS meetings, they have offered:

 

– “a willingness to agree not to further extend driver controlled operation beyond the current position, for a period of five years, without the agreement of ASLEF”

 

– “suggested setting up an insurance/ indemnity arrangement for drivers to support colleagues involved in platform train interface incidents, unless gross misconduct is the cause”

 

– “proposed a technology update programme to refresh older, yet safe and functional on-train technology to ensure it is of the same standard of later variants of the same type of train.”

 

These sound significant concessions if they are offered in the way described in Southern’s letter. But the strike action goes on.

 

Stuart Harland

Chairman

MarshLink Action Group

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