Operators appeal to ASLEF after strike vote at eight TOCs


++ ASLEF urged not to go ahead with strikes at train operators
++ More industrial action threatened at Network Rail after TSSA ballots
++ MPs approve controversial law change allowing agency workers to replace strikers

ASLEF members at eight train operators in England have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay. Operators are urging ASLEF to continue talks rather than calling walkouts of drivers.

Seven of the operators run National Rail contracts, and the eighth is a Transport for London concession holder.

Services are now set to be disrupted on Chiltern Railways, Great Western Railway, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains. Some Transport for London services are likely to be affected as well, because there was also a vote in favour at Overground operator Arriva Rail London.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Strikes are always the last resort. We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport, too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike, but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies driven by the government.

‘Many of our members – who were, you will remember, the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019.

‘With inflation running at north of 10 per cent that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years. We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

‘It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row.  Especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and train drivers don’t want to work longer for less.

‘Wage rises aren’t exacerbating inflation, anyway. Excess profiteering is. The government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.’

The Rail Delivery Group said: ‘We want to see rail unions engage with train operators over the reforms needed to secure a bright long-term future for the industry, including working with ASLEF to deliver the more punctual, reliable services we know passengers care about. Instead of causing further disruption to passengers and businesses, we urge the ASLEF leadership to continue talks.’

In related news, pay talks are taking place today after members of the clerical and management union TSSA at Network Rail voted in favour of industrial action. Bands 5–8 and controllers voted 77.4 per cent in favour of strikes, and maintenance engineers voted for strikes by 69.2 per cent. TSSA said: ’This will send a strong message to Network Rail bosses that we need action on pay, job security and terms and conditions.’

The union added that its members in Bands 1–4 had also voted in favour of taking action, but the turnout had been ‘just below’ the legal minimum threshold.

Meanwhile, MPs have approved a change in the law which allows agency workers to replace striking staff. In last night’s vote they passed the measure, which amends an existing law, by 289 to 202. Business minister Jane Hunt told MPs: ‘Some trade unions appear to us to be looking to create maximum disruption in a bid to stay relevant rather than constructively seeking agreement with employers and avoid conflict.’

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner responded: ‘They will risk public safety, rip up workers’ rights, and encourage the very worst practices. And above all they will not prevent strikes, they will provoke them.’

source= http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2022/07/12-operators-appeal-to-aslef-after.html