Aslef postpones ballot of Southern Rail drivers after "technical hitches"

 
Rebecca Smith
Aslef's original ballot was meant to be returned on 18 November
Aslef's original ballot was meant to be returned on 18 November (Source: Getty)

Train drivers' union Aslef has postponed its ballot of Southern drivers after a series of "technical hitches" over the weekend.

Aslef had given out the papers on Friday 4 November, but noticed technical issues on Saturday. A spokesman told City A.M. there would be a re-ballot as it was "important to give members an opportunity to air their frustrations" with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern's owner.

"We'll address the technical issues tomorrow and then they'll go out," the spokesman added, though there isn't a specific date in mind yet for the fresh ballot. "We want to make sure we get everything right."

Read more: Now Aslef is balloting Southern drivers for strikes

Aslef decided to ballot its drivers on Southern Rail for industrial action, after last-ditch talks at the union’s head office on Monday 17 October failed to resolve the row over the introduction of new driver-only operated routes on Southern. Aslef feels these shouldn't be brought in without the agreement of the union.

Angie Doll, Southern's passenger services director, said: "This welcome development gives us the time and opportunity to sit down with union officials to resolve their dispute."

Read more: New Southern Rail strikes set to cause Christmas chaos

Southern said 215 conductors, 96 per cent, had signed up to the new on-board supervisor (OBS) role and will take it up in January. That will move the operation of closing doors to the driver. They had until 4 November to respond to Southern's deadline for agreeing to transfer to the new job.

A further 222 people will remain in their existing roles as conductors on certain Southern services. The train company said it will also be recruiting a further 100 OBS roles to work across Southern and Gatwick Express services.

GTR also said it had formally revoked its offer to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union to settle its dispute. The RMT is planing another 11 days of strikes by conductors, including new walkouts planned from Thursday 22 December until Christmas Eve, and then again from New Year's Eve until Monday 2 January.

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