Rail union leader claims government does not care about passengers or staff

The general secretary of the drivers’ union ASLEF has launched a broadside against the government and train operators, accusing them of not caring about railway passengers and staff.

His comments came as he announced another week-long overtime ban in England between 31 July and 5 August.

ASLEF has already started a similar ban today, which will continue until Saturday. It is the third of its kind, because ASLEF had already withdrawn ‘non-contractual’ overtime from 15 to 20 May, and also earlier this month for six days from 3 July.

The operators affected are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Govia Thameslink Railway, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway and Island Line, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We don’t want to take this action. We don’t want people to be inconvenienced. But the blame lies with the train companies, and the government which stands behind them, which refuse to sit down and talk to us and have not made a fair and sensible pay offer to train drivers who have not had one for four years – since 2019 – while prices have soared in that time by more than 12 per cent.

‘The proposal they made on Wednesday 26 April – of 4 per cent with a further rise dependent, in a naked land grab on drivers giving up terms and conditions for which we have fought and negotiated for years – was not designed to be accepted.

‘We have not heard a word from the employers since then – not a meeting, not a phone call, not a text message, nor an email – for the last twelve weeks, and we haven’t sat down with the government since 6 January. That shows how little the companies and the government care about passengers and staff. They appear content to let this drift on and on.

‘In contrast, we want a fair resolution. That’s why we are taking this action, to try to bring things to a head. Then I can concentrate on my day job working with others in the industry to rebuild Britain’s railways for passengers, for business, and for this country.’

Meanwhile, the RMT is set to stage 24-hour National Rail walkouts on 20, 22 and 29 July, and also a ‘week of action’ on London Underground between 23 and 28 July.

The Rail Delivery Group said: ‘While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced services between Monday 17 July and Saturday 29 July, so our advice is to check before you travel.’

source= http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2023/07/17-rail-union-leader-claims-government.html

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