Yet MORE rail summer strike chaos as Aslef train drivers vote to strike at EIGHT rail companies: Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains
- Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said strikes are the ‘last resort’
- Aslef members did accept an improved pay offer from ScotRail on Monday
- In May, members refused to work overtime or rest days as part of pay dispute
- This led to hundreds of services being cut from timetables on May 23
Train drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, increasing the threat of huge disruption to rail services this summer.
Members of the drivers union Aslef at eight train companies backed campaigns of industrial action.
Aslef members at Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains voted by around 9-1 in favour of strikes on turnouts of more than 80 per cent.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said strikes are the ‘last resort’ but said his union wants a pay increase ‘in line with the cost of living’.
It comes after Aslef members did accept an improved 5 per cent pay offer from ScotRail on Monday.
The union announced that its members had accepted proposals on pay and conditions from the newly nationalised rail operator.
The new strike action will raise eyebrows given that the average train driver salary is £59,000, rising to £71,000 for drivers on LNER’s East Coast trains. The average UK salary is £25,971.
It comes after the country’s rail network ground to a halt last month when members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) went on strike.
The RMT, led by firebrand Mick Lynch, threatened to hold further walkouts later in the summer.
RMT members have staged three strikes over the pay row which crippled services.
Train drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, increasing the threat of huge disruption to rail services this summer. Members of the drivers union Aslef at eight train companies backed campaigns of industrial action
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said strikes are the ‘last resort’ but said his union wants a pay increase ‘in line with the cost of living’
Speaking of the strike action, Mr 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 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.
Strike ballot results at the eight rail companies whose drivers have voted for action
Arriva Rail London:
Yes: 637 [98.9 per cent]
No: 7 [1.1 per cent]
Turnout: 92.5 per cent
Yes: 217 [92.3 per cent]
No: 18 [7.7 per cent]
Turnout: 86.4 per cent
Yes: 1,049 [86.1 per cent]
No: 170 [13.9 per cent]
Turnout: 86.3 per cent
Yes: 323 [88.5 per cent]
No: 42 [11.5 per cent]
Turnout: 89.0 per cent
Yes: 1,562 [95.2 per cent]
No: 78 [4.8 per cent]
Turnout: 88.5 per cent
Yes: 741 [91.6 per cent]
No: 68 [8.4 per cent]
Turnout: 86.2 per cent
Yes: 426 [94.2 per cent]
No: 26 [5.8 per cent]
Turnout: 84.8 per cent
West Midlands Trains:
Yes: 636 [89.6 per cent]
No: 74 [10.4 per cent]
Turnout: 83.5 per cent
‘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.’
In May, members refused to work overtime or rest days as part of the pay dispute.
This led to hundreds of services being cut from timetables on May 23, with Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth saying it would provide greater certainty.
Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: ‘Following a ballot on the improved offer negotiated with ScotRail, Aslef members have voted to accept the proposals on pay and conditions.
‘Aslef is a democratic, lay, member-led union, and I want to thank our members for their engagement and response to the ballot.’
In June, ScotRail offered train drivers a pay increase of 5 per cent following negotiations with the union.
The reduced timetable has affected a number of large events across Scotland, including Scotland’s World Cup qualifier match against Ukraine at Hampden Park and the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow.
As well as a 5 per cent pay increase, drivers will also get more money for rest day and Sunday working, driving instructor and maternity pay along with a policy of no compulsory redundancies for the next five years.
Aslef has balloted members at firms Arriva Rail London; Chiltern; Croydon Tramlink; Greater Anglia; Great Western; Hull Trains; LNER; Northern Trains; ScotRail; Southeastern; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.
Commenting on ASLEF joining the national rail dispute, RMT general secretary Mr Lynch said: ‘We congratulate our friends in ASLEF for their superb ballot result and the huge mandate they have for strike action on the railways.
‘It goes to show that railway workers across every grade from cleaners, catering staff guards, maintenance staff and drivers are fed up with real terms pay cuts, attacks on job security and working conditions.
‘When railway unions and others unite, they are an unstoppable force in the workplace and wider society.
‘Grant Shapps needs to stop messing around with his doomed Tory leadership bid and get back to focusing on resolving this dispute.
‘He continues to shackle both Network Rail and the train companies from reaching a deal with the RMT, something we have done repeatedly and successfully since privatisation in 1993.
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), welcomed the strike action announced by Aslef
‘Mr Shapps should either get around the table or get out of the way because at the moment, he is the major roadblock to a negotiated settlement.’
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘It is very disappointing that, rather than commit to serious dialogue with the industry, Aslef are first seeking to cause further misery to passengers by joining others in disrupting the rail network.
‘The train drivers they represent earn, on average, just under £60,000 per year – more than twice the UK median salary and significantly more than the very workers who will be most impacted by these strikes.
‘Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation to make it work better for passengers and be financially sustainable for the long term. We urge the union bosses to reconsider and work with its employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.’
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