Rail operator Southern has criticised union ASLEF after it said that drivers will strike for three days next week rather than six.
UPDATE: the union subsequently announced three further strike days, on Tuesday and Wednesday 24 and 25 January and Friday 27 January.
Responding to the announcement on Wednesday (4 January) by ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan, a Southern spokesperson said: ‘This is a cynical ploy to minimise the impact on ASLEF’s drivers’ pay packets and maximises misery, disruption and hardship for passengers.
‘ASLEF’s move shows pure contempt for the travelling public and it still causes massive disruption over next week. These strikes are pointless and they should call the whole thing off and let common sense prevail.’
Mr Whelan said drivers on Southern will now take strike action on Tuesday and Wednesday (10 and 11 January) and again on Friday (13 January) instead of striking from Monday to Saturday inclusive.
An overtime ban, which has also disrupted Southern services, will continue.
Mr Whelan said: ‘We are taking a longer-term view of this trade dispute. The company has not been prepared to move – it is simply going through the motions, turning up at ACAS, as it did yesterday, and telling us that it intends to impose DOO [driver only operation].
‘We remain committed to a negotiated settlement, as was reached with ScotRail, but it is difficult to negotiate with people who are not prepared to be flexible.
‘We still believe a deal can be done but we are, at the moment, a long way from that position. It is time for the company to come up with a genuine offer rather than carry on posturing.’