Signal company

Another rail company facing drivers’ strike next month

Another rail company is to be hit by a strike by train drivers, threatening huge disruptions to services.

Aslef announced on Wednesday that its members at 12 train operating companies will step down on October 1 and 5 in a long-running wage dispute.

The union said conductors would also strike at East Midlands Railway on October 5 after members voted for industrial action earlier this week.

The strikes will disrupt the movement of delegates and visitors to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

The companies we are in dispute with have not offered us a penny.

Mick Whelan, Aslef

Services are likely to be affected on October 2, the day of the London Marathon.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has also announced a strike for October 1 among its members at Network Rail and 14 rail companies.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing your work, although it is a basic human right, is always a last resort for this union – but the railroads are determined to force our hand.

“They tell train drivers to take a real pay cut. With inflation now at 12.3% – and set to rise further – these companies say drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, just as long, but for much less.

“The companies we are in dispute with have not offered us a penny. It is outrageous that they expect us to take a pay cut on real terms for the third year in a row.

Aslef members in 12 companies – Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; Cross country; Greater Anglia; Great Western Railway; hull landing gear; LNER; London Overground; Northern Trains; South East; Trans Pennine Express; and West Midlands Trains – will strike on October 1 and 5, while East Midlands Railway drivers will be out on October 5.

Aslef said it had reached wage deals with 11 rail and freight companies this year, including Eurostar, GB Railfreight, Merseyrail, MTR Elizabeth line and ScotRail.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “These strikes will once again be a huge hindrance to the very passengers the industry needs to support its recovery from the continued impact of the pandemic.

“They range from those left out because they can’t get to work, to people missing vital appointments and to the thousands of London Marathon runners, who after months of training will see their journey to London interrupted at the weekend.

“Strikes are not in the long-term interests of railway workers or in building a sustainable rail industry. We want to give our people a raise, but without the reforms we are proposing, we simply cannot offer raises.

“Revenues are still around 80% of pre-pandemic levels; no business can survive this magnitude of disruption without implementing change.

“The actions of union leaders have very real consequences: every day of the strike takes more money out of the pockets of their members.

“We want to see the industry and its workers prosper – we’re calling on union leaders to do the right thing, call off these damaging strikes and work with us to make it happen.”

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association has announced that it will vote hundreds of its members at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) on possible industrial action, including strikes.

The union represents workers, including platform and ticket office staff, train crew, engineers and management.

General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is a clear signal to GTR that our members are not willing to be pushed around in the face of a growing Tory cost of living crisis and a government that wants to cut jobs in the railways.

“I want to encourage our members to vote yes to both strike action and non-strike action because we know we are fighting for the future of our railroads.

“We have already seen a strong set of ballot results elsewhere in the rail companies our union represents and we are ready to resume the strike in the weeks to come.

“Ministers and GTR bosses would do well to be realistic and address our concerns now, so that further disruption does not take place.

“Otherwise there is likely to be crippling action on one of the main rail networks to and from London and beyond in the near future.”

Angie Doll, Chief Operating Officer at GTR, said: “Our goal remains to encourage all unions to continue to work with the industry to seek a resolution that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the railway.”