Aslef union train drivers announce two more strike dates

Train drivers are to stage fresh strikes after the rejection of a pay offer.

Members of Aslef will walk out on February 1 and 3, causing more travel disruption across the country.

The first strike will coincide with a walkout by 100,000 civil servants in their dispute over pay and jobs, a strike by teachers over pay, and nationwide protests against the Government’s controversial new strike law.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: “The offer is not acceptable but we are willing to engage in further discussions with the train operating companies.”

The companies affected include Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; South Western Railway (depot drivers only); SWR Island Line; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.

Mr Whelan added: “Not only is the offer a real-terms pay cut, with inflation running north of 10%, but it came with so many conditions attached that it was clearly unacceptable.

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“They want to rip up our terms and conditions in return for a real-terms pay cut. It was clearly a rushed offer, made just before our meeting with the minister, and not one, it seems to me, that was designed to be accepted.

“Our members at these companies have not had an increase since 2019, despite soaring inflation, and it is time the companies – encouraged, perhaps, by the Government – sat down with us and got serious.

“That is the way – and the only way – to end this dispute.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesman said: “It’s disappointing our fair and affordable offer, which would take average driver base salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000 by the end of 2023 pay awards, wasn’t put to the Aslef members.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan talking to the media on a picket line earlier this month
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan on a picket line during strike action earlier this month (PA)

“With taxpayers still funding up to an extra £175 million a month to make up the shortfall in revenue post-Covid, it provided a significant salary uplift while bringing in long overdue, common-sense reforms that would mean more reliable services for passengers.

“Rather than announcing further unnecessary strikes, we ask Aslef to recognise the very real financial challenge the industry is facing and work with us to deliver a better railway with a strong long-term future.”

The RDG said its offer would give staff a pay rise of 8% over two years (4% for 2022, backdated to the relevant pay award date, plus 4% for 2023), with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until March 2024.

Mr Whelan added: “It’s now clear to our members, and to the public, that this was never about reform or modernisation but an attempt to get hundreds of millions of pounds of productivity for a 20% pay cut while taking away any hope of the union having any say in the future.

“Irreparable harm has been done to the integrity of the negotiating process and the future ability to negotiate an appropriate way forward, but we make ourselves available anyway.”