Train drivers to stage fresh strike in pay dispute

Train drivers at 12 operators are to stage a fresh strike in the long-running dispute over pay, threatening more travel chaos across the country.

Members of Aslef will walk out on November 26 after the union said it was still waiting for a pay offer from the employers, despite a series of talks.

Rail Strikes
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan at a picket line at Euston station (Victoria Jones/PA)

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We don’t want to be taking this action. Withdrawing our labour is always a last resort for a trade union.

“We have come to the table, as we always will, in good faith but while the industry continues to make no offer – due to the dodgy deal they signed with the Department for Transport – we have no choice but to take strike action again.

“They want drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now well into double figures, train drivers who kept Britain moving through the pandemic are now being expected to work just as hard this year as last year but for less. Most of these drivers have not had an increase in salary since 2019.

“We want the companies – which are making huge profits – to make a proper pay offer so that our members can keep up with the cost of living.”

The 12 companies facing the fresh strike are Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; London North Eastern Railway; London Overground; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Transpennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

Aslef members have taken a series of strikes in recent months, while the RMT and TSSA unions are also still embroiled in industrial disputes.

Meanwhile, West Coast rail operator LNER has expressed disappointment that members of Aslef have decided to withdraw overtime from the end of the month in a separate row over terms and conditions.

Warrick Dent, LNER safety & operations director said: “In recent discussions with Aslef’s representatives at LNER we set out how we are responding to the issues they raised, and we are focused on running reliable services for our customers.

“We believe that these matters are best resolved between LNER and Aslef through discussion rather than further industrial action which only damages the rail industry.

“We remain fully committed to working collaboratively with Aslef’s representatives at LNER. In the meantime, we are confident that our contingency plans will keep disruption to LNER services to a minimum.”

LNER said its base timetable requires 371 drivers.

The company employs 402 drivers, up from 368 in June 2018 and is committed to recruiting a further 40 drivers over the next 12 months.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “We are incredibly frustrated the Aslef leadership has decided to take further strike action.

“We regret Aslef’s decision, which will cause real disruption to passengers and hit its members’ pay packets.

“Instead of staging more counterproductive strike action which increases the very real financial challenge the industry is facing, we ask them to work with us to secure both a pay deal and the changes needed for it to thrive in the long term and improve reliability across the network.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “It’s disappointing Aslef has yet again chosen self-defeating strike action when our railway is in urgent need of reform.

“This past week saw positive developments between unions and employers and planned strikes cancelled, so this is a frustrating backwards step.

“More disruption is not only damaging to the public and Aslef’s own members’ livelihoods but threatens the future of the railway itself. It has never been more important for all sides to work together and address the fundamental issues in front of us.”