ASLEF to stage two more strikes at 12 train operators: now RMT to strike as well

Update: The RMT has also announced a strike of its members at 14 operators on 1 October.

Train operators have urged the drivers’ union ASLEF not to go ahead with two more strikes at 12 train operators on 1 and 5 October.

The Rail Delivery Group said: ‘These strikes will once again hugely inconvenience the very passengers the industry needs to support its recovery from the ongoing impact of the pandemic. The strikes are not in the long-term interests of rail workers or building a sustainable rail industry. We want to give our people a pay rise, but without the reforms we are proposing, we simply cannot deliver pay increases.  Revenue is still around 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. No business can survive that scale of upheaval without implementing change.

‘The actions of union leaders have very real consequences: every strike day takes more money out of their members’ pockets.  We want to see the industry and its people thrive – we are asking the union’s leadership to do the right thing, call off these damaging strikes and work with us to make that happen.’

ASLEF said it had postponed a strike which had been called for 15 September, out of respect for the late Queen.

But although it made no public announcement, again out of respect for the Royal Family, until after yesterday’s State Funeral, it had been obliged to tell the operators on 16 September, to comply with the 14 days’ notice of industrial action which are required by law.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan added: ‘We would much rather not be in this position. We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing your labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for this trade union – but the train companies have been determined to force our hand.

‘They are telling train drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now running at 12.3 per cent – and set, it is said, to go higher – these companies are saying that drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, for just as long, but for considerably less.

‘The companies with whom we are in dispute have not offered us a penny. It is outrageous that they expect us to put up with a real terms pay cut for a third year in a row. And that’s why we are going on strike. To persuade the companies to be sensible, to do the right thing, and come and negotiate properly with us. Not to run up and say, “Our hands are tied and the government will not allow us to offer you an increase”’.

The operators who are set to be affected are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

The union has previously staged stoppages on 30 July and 13 August in its dispute over pay.