First Capital Connect drivers ballot called off

A BALLOT for industrial action for First Capital Connect (FCC) drivers has been called off.

Yesterday (Tuesday) train drivers’ union Aslef approved a new offer from FCC which includes a 1.5 per cent increase backdated to April.

The news means services on the Great Northern route – which runs through Times Territory – should be restored to a normal timetable from Monday.

A FCC spokesman told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “The union has considered our revised pay offer and agreed to recommend it for acceptance to members [in a referendum running until January 13].

“We are working jointly with Aslef to encourage our drivers to resume restday and overtime working especially on the Thameslink route, our aim being to provide a full, normal service to our customers as quickly as possible.”

The revised offer includes 1.5 per cent in April 2009 and 2 per cent in April 2010.

A further productivity increase proposed for November 2010 would take the total to about 5 per cent over two years.

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Aslef general secretary Keith Norman said: “I’m pleased FCC has come forward with an improved offer and hope they will address the causes of the current disagreement by recruiting more train drivers.”

Cancellations and disruptions on the Great Northern route – which includes Knebworth, Welwyn North, WGC, Hatfield, Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Potters Bar railway stations – have plagued travellers following drivers refusal to work overtime, in a dispute over pay.

The row escalated on Remembrance Sunday when the rail operator controversially decided to scrap all services on the route, after staff adopted the work-to-rule policy.