Train drivers to stage another strike in January
Train drivers announced another one-day strike on Tuesday, set down for 5 January, after members at 15 train operators voted for more walk-outs in a long-running dispute over pay.
The ASLEF union said the strike would bring services on affected routes to a halt on the day before other rail worker members of the RMT union were planning another 48-hour strike.
Between the two strikes, Britain’s rail network will effectively shut down for three days on 5, 6 and 7 January.
“We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place,” said ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan.
“They have not offered our members at these companies a penny - and these are people who have not had an increase since April 2019.
“That means they expect train drivers at these companies to take a real-terms pay cut - to work just as hard for considerably less - when inflation is running at north of 14%.”
ASLEF, which represents 96% of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, said the affected operators would include Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink, London North Eastern Railway, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, the depot drivers at South Western Railway, the Isle of Wight’s Island Line, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.
“The train companies say their hands have been tied by the government, while the government - which does not employ us - says it’s up to the companies to negotiate with us,” Mick Whelan added.
“We are always happy to negotiate - we never refuse to sit down at the table and talk - but these companies have offered us nothing. And that is unacceptable.”
ASLEF balloted members again as a legal mandate is only valid for six months, with the union saying its members again voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.
“The resolve of our members is rock steady,” said Whelan.
“A 93% ‘yes’ vote - up on the very high figure last time - on an average turnout of 85% shows that our members are in this for the long haul.
“It shows just how angry, and determined, we are.”
ASLEF noted that it had already successfully negotiated pay deals with 12 train operators so far this year, including DB Cargo; Eurostar, Freightliner Heavy Haul, Freightliner Intermodal, GB Railfreight, Grand Central, Merseyrail, MTR Elizabeth Line, Nexus, Pre Metro Operations, ScotRail and Transport for Wales.
It said it was in dispute only with companies which had “failed to offer drivers anything”.
Additionally, an offer from Arriva Rail London, which operates the London Overground for Transport for London, had been put to members with a recommendation to accept.
Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.