The UK’s biggest trade union Aslef have voted 87% in favour of setting additional dates for industrial action, causing more anxiety to Southern passengers relying on services over the festive period.
The long-term dispute over the roles of Southern Rail’s employees has been causing disruption to customers since April, with Southern wanting drivers to operate carriage doors rather than the conductors. The RMT union has already held nine walkouts over plans by rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway and now Aslef, the union representing train drivers, has balloted its members and an overwhelming majority said they were willing to join forces and take part in a strike.
Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary has said "We have genuinely sought to reach a compromise with Southern.We have always been prepared to talk to the company and we have always been of the view that it should be possible to do a deal, but it takes two to tango and the company has not been prepared to negotiate".
In previous walkouts, Southern has been able to run reduced services. But with a combined strike action between the unions, the impact will foreseeably have a severe impact on tube and rail services as soon as within the next week.
The announcement has come on a day where despite there being no planned industrial action, Southern passengers travelling between Brighton and Ore faced delays of up to two hours at rush hour as a result of overrunning engineering works and a train catching on fire in Eastbourne. The union will by law have to give seven days' notice of any industrial action they plan to take place.