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London Rail Unions Reach Agreement, Ending Months-Long Battle

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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A deal reached by the South London train network (Southern Rail) and its drivers is expected to end months of disruptions, as long as the drivers formally approve the agreement.

The train drivers union, Aslef, has been locked in a bitter dispute with management over plans to install driver-operated doors, which would result in the elimination of staff positions on the busy rail network. (RELATED: Union Unrest Grinds London Subways To A Halt)

The drivers were forced to reach an agreement with Southern Rail after reportedly losing close to $2,000 over the course of six days on the strike and an extended ban on overtime pay.

The agreement is not a “done deal,” as close to 1,000 train drivers will now vote to approve the tentative deal. A good number of drivers are expected to vote against the agreement, according to The Guardian.

The drivers union accepted management’s plans to install driver-operated doors, and negotiated some permanent positions on board the train. The positions are referred to as “supervisors,” a title that reportedly irked some of the drivers who questioned what it would be like to work with an on-board supervisor.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which represents conductors and other employees on the rail network, called the agreement between its fellow union and Southern Rail a “shocking betrayal of workers and passengers.”

London has been bombarded with transport worker strikes for months. Labor unions representing post office employees and British Airways announced strikes over the holidays, in an effort to maximize exposure to their cause. (RELATED: UK Labor Unions Disrupt Christmas Transportation With Strikes)

The disruptions to London commuters is a mark against the city’s relatively new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who promised to prevent major labor unrest that disrupts the city.

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Ted Goodman