England

London Midland and Aslef reach agreement in pay dispute

Train drivers' union Aslef says it has reached agreement with London Midland in a long-running dispute which has caused weeks of disruption.

Drivers have been refusing to volunteer to work overtime, leaving a shortage of staff, especially at weekends.

A three-year pay deal was discussed which brings parity to employee pay, a large part of the dispute, Aslef said.

The deal has been described by Aslef as a "win-win" agreement. The rail operator was not available to comment.

The proposal will now be put to the union's 605 members who are being advised to accept it. There are 614 London Midland drivers.

London Midland was formed from Central and Silverlink in 2007 and operates services from the Midlands to London and the North West.

Former Silverlink workers had six days more annual leave than former Central workers but were paid up to £1,500-a-year less.

The union has said there had been an undertaking by London Midland to harmonise pay and conditions by March 2009 affecting up to 1,000 issues, which had not happened.

'Recommending acceptance'

But after talks in London on Wednesday, Simon Weller, national convener for Aslef, said pay harmonisation has been reached by the union offering more "flexibility" and agreeing some productivity changes and the rail operator also "moving" on other issues.

Services should return to normal at weekends while members are consulted and a new pay rate of time-and-a-half has been agreed for Sunday working, he added.

Sunday services have been disrupted by the dispute most weekends since 29 January which both parties have apologised for.

Mr Wellar said: "It's a two-way street this..

"It's what you would call a win-win agreement and our negotiators are recommending our members accept the deal."

Rail watchdog, Passenger Focus, said it welcomed the news and is awaiting more detail.

London Midland operates services through London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, the West Midlands, Shropshire, Cheshire and Merseyside.

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