Southern Drivers have shown by rejecting the latest proposal aimed at ending their dispute ,that even when a Company shackles the Union bureaucrats it cannot shackle the Union members.

It was a remarkable display of courage by the Drivers to reject the strongest possible recommendation from their Union and vote to continue the fight.

Simon Weller, ASLEF Assistant General Secretary, stated that the deal was rejected due to the toxic atmosphere that exists between GTR and their staff. There is no disputing that the relationship between GTR and their staff is toxic but this is not why the deal was rejected. This was not a “foot stamping” exercise by Drivers fed up with their employer, this was Drivers recognising that the deal being recommended to them was unacceptable and voting accordingly.

With the dispute now entering into its twelfth month there is understandable anxiety amongst Train Crew about how it will be brought to a successful conclusion. Drivers are having to contend with their Union recommending deals which they fear will have dire consequences for their Terms and Conditions in coming years. They don’t doubt that their salaries will continue to increase what they fear is what will be expected from them to get this salary. This understandably has a detrimental effect on Train Crew morale and will have led some frontline staff into concluding that they cannot affect the future shape of their industry.

This is not the case. The future is not inevitable – it is down to us!

This dispute can and will be won if enough Frontline staff throw their support behind the RMT action. I fully appreciate that many Drivers are rightly proud to be members of ASLEF .The many years that ASLEF have dedicated to representing the driving grade should not be forgotten by any of us.

What is clear is that at the present time, for whatever reason, they are unable to offer the leadership required to bring this dispute to a successful conclusion. It is for this reason that I believe that the way for Drivers to play an active part in successfully concluding the dispute is to act in partnership with their Sisters and Brothers in the RMT.

It is essential that we are able to convince GTR that the solution to their dispute with us and their dispute with the driving grade  will be found in tri-party talks (GTR, RMT and ASLEF) and not by trying to divide the Unions so that the Company can reap the benefits. It must be clear to everyone by now this was why GTR refused to allow Mick Cash into the talks which took place at the TUC. Rail Unions must learn the lesson from this. Issues regarding the division of responsibilities within Train Crew can only be successfully addressed when GTR are forced to abandon their attempts to divide the unions and instead work constructively with both Unions in finding solutions to our shared concerns.

To bring this to reality Train Crew need to work together. We need to demonstrate to GTR that their attempts to divide us have failed and demand that we have a say in the future shape of our industry.

Everyone involved in the rail industry should want to see a Safe, Accessible, Secure and reliable rail service. A service that staff can be proud of providing and that will meet and exceed the expectations of the travelling public.

If we act together we can make it happen. Saturday the 8th of April gives Train Crew the opportunity to stand united and if that opportunity is grasped then we will be successful.