Aslef's not happy with Southern over "misleading" claims it cancelled a strike ballot

Rebecca Smith
The ballot's still going ahead, says Aslef
The ballot's still going ahead, says Aslef (Source: Getty)

Train drivers' union Aslef is not happy over a press release sent out by Southern's parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) over the weekend.

A press release from GTR said Aslef "cancels ballot 24 hours after launch", calling it off for technical reasons. Aslef said it had simply been postponed.

Angie Doll, Southern's passenger services director, said: "We're pleased that Aslef has called off this ballot. This welcome development gives us the time and opportunity to sit down with union officials to resolve their dispute."

Read more: Aslef postpones ballot of Southern Rail drivers after "technical hitches"

But Aslef said GTR had made "deliberately misleading statements", when the ballot had been suspended.

"We have not cancelled our ballot for industrial action," said Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef. "Today we informed the company that, after a technical hitch, we are issuing fresh ballot papers."

GTR said it stood by its comments.

It comes as GTR revoked its formal offer to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union as strike action continues. The RMT is planning another 11 days of strikes by conductors, including over Christmas.

Doll said RMT's leadership "had stooped to a new low" by calling dates over the festive period "and we know of some conductors who have now resigned their union membership over this selfish, shameful and spiteful act".

Read more: RMT rally outside parliament before days of strikes on Southern Rail trains

Southern said over 200 conductors had now signed up to its new on-board role, 96 per cent, and will take up the new role in January. "Over the last two sets of strikes nearly a third of conductors turned up for work, disproving the union's claims that support is rock solid," Doll said.

An RMT spokesman said workers were simply "doing what the union told them to do" and support for the strikes remained solid.

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