Drivers' union ASLEF and the operators of Southern rail have reached a provisional deal to end a long running dispute over the driver only operation (DOO) of trains.
However, the agreement does not yet include the RMT union, which represents the majority of staff moved from a role as conductors (guards) to being ‘on board supervisors’ under DOO.
At the time of writing, the terms of the agreement between ASLEF and GTR, which runs Southern services, had not been made public.
Around 930 ASLEF members on Southern will vote in a referendum on whether or not to accept the deal. Ballot papers will be dispatched tomorrow (3 February) to be returned by 16 February.
The union’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, called the agreement ‘a significant step forward in addressing the safety concerns of ASLEF members on Southern rail'.
He added: ‘ASLEF has never been against changes to working methods. Rather we believe any changes should be negotiated through agreed procedures. I am confident this deal can provide a safer and appropriately staffed railway for passengers on Southern rail and I will be recommending it to our members.’
Nick Brown, GTR’s chief operating officer, said: ‘Our aim has always been to reach agreement with the unions on our proposals and we're delighted to have secured a deal today with ASLEF to end their dispute.
‘It's good news for passengers, the regional economy and staff. After the misery and disruption to people's work and family lives, we are pleased we can start to move forward and deliver a better railway for the travelling public.’
The two sides had been in talks brokered by the TUC for just over two weeks after the union agreed to call off three days of strikes that were due to take place last week.
The RMT said it had been excluded from the talks and its dispute with Southern looks set to continue.
However, following the announcement of the agreement with ASLEF, Mr Brown said: 'We are ready, willing and able to meet with the RMT.'