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Railway dispute between London Midland and unions set to continue

 

Railway dispute between London Midland and unions set to continue

A bitter dispute between drivers and the biggest train operator in the West Midlands could lead to disruption on the rail network for years, say union leaders.

London Midland, which runs the busy Cross City line, has snubbed demands by Aslef members on harmonising conditions – despite three years of talks.

The row has led to drivers refusing to work overtime and services have been slashed or cancelled completely on Sundays.

More than 30 trains were cancelled or ran short of their destination today (Tuesday).

Members are now threatening to strike in April when thousands of people will travel to take advantage of the extra Bank Holiday for the royal wedding.

Calls were made by pressure group Passenger Focus to resolve the disagreement for the sake of commuters.

But both Aslef and London Midland said a quick end to the dispute was unlikely and the union has refused to go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for mediation.

“Aslef are refusing to go to Acas and would rather go straight to the ballot for action,” said London Midland spokesman Richard Lakin.

“We want to harmonise terms as much as they do but we won’t sign that we can’t afford and has to be altered in two years’ time.

“We don’t like to cancel services but we have had an agreement for overtime working which the union no longer wants to support.”

The dispute stems from failure to reach an agreement over harmonising the terms and conditions of drivers who worked for Central and Silverlink, which were merged as part of the London Midland franchise contract in 2007.

London Midland says union demands for the higher rates of pay of one existing contract and more holidays of the other to be awarded to all staff are unrealistic.

Aslef official Mick Whelan said: “I’m very downbeat about their attitude and this is going to run on for a long time unless that changes.”

A ballot for strike action ends on April 11 and any walkout would have to take place with 28 days.

Anne Bradley, from the pressure group Passenger Focus, said: “It is absolutely crucial that Aslef and the train operator get back around the table. They need to sort this out to get the train service running as it should be.”



Read More http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-transport-news/2011/03/29/railway-dispute-between-london-midland-and-unions-set-to-continue-65233-28422519/#ixzz1I3r4bUDL
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