Train drivers are to bring more misery to Britain’s rail network with a strike in mid-September.
Members of the ASLEF union, which represents 96 per cent of train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales, will walk out at 12 train operating companies on Thursday 15 September in a dispute over pay.
The train companies which will be hit by the industrial action are London Overground, Southeastern, Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern Trains, TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced.”
Seeking to blame rail bosses, he added: “We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand.”
Mr Whelan added: “They want train drivers to take a real-terms pay cut - to work just as hard this year as last, but for ten per cent less.
“We want the companies, which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses, to make a proper pay offer to help our members keep up with the increase in the cost of living.”
But a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “For the ninth time this summer, union leaders are choosing self-defeating strike action over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who rely on these services but jeopardising the future of the railways and their own members’ livelihoods.”
Drivers have already walked out for 24 hours on July 30 and August 13
The union said the walkout will coincide with the Labour Party’s annual conference in Liverpool on September 26 and 27.
The companies involved include Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, LNER and Southeastern as well as Network Rail controllers.
Staff have called for industrial action in an ongoing dispute over pay, job security and conditions. They rejected a 2 per cent pay offer earlier this summer.
Union leader Manuel Cortes accused Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of stopping train operating companies from making a “revised, meaningful offer”.
He said: “Frankly, [Mr Shapps] either sits across the negotiating table with our union or gets out of the way to allow railway bosses to freely negotiate with us, as they have done in the past.
“The reason for the current impasse lies squarely at Shapps’ door and passengers are paying a high price for his incompetence and intransigence.
"I welcome the fact that negotiations are ongoing with Network Rail and the gap towards a resolution is narrowing. Time will tell whether a deal can be done to avert our next strike.
"I will be standing on our picket line in Liverpool and will be encouraging fellow delegates and Labour MPs to do likewise, so they can rightly show they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those fighting the Tories’ cost of living crisis."
A DfT spokesman said: “For the eighth time this summer, union leaders are choosing self-defeating strike action over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who rely on these services but jeopardising the future of the railways and their own members’ livelihoods.
“These reforms deliver the modernisations our rail network urgently needs, are essential to the future of rail, and will happen, strikes will not change this.”
Union members will walkout from midday on Monday 26 until midday on Tuesday 27.