ASLEF: Train drivers’ union announces new industrial action

ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has today [Friday] announced another one day strike – on Friday 1 September – and an overtime ban across the UK rail network on Saturday 2 September.

The strike will force companies to cancel all services in this country and the ban on overtime will seriously disrupt the network as none of the privatised train operating companies employs enough drivers to provide a proper service without drivers working on their days off.

The 16 companies affected include: Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; c2c; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; Great Western Railway; Island Line; LNER; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; South Western Railway; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: ‘We don’t want to take this action but the train companies, and the government which stands behind them, have forced us into this place because they 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%.

‘The government appears happy to let passengers – and businesses – suffer in the mistaken belief that they can bully us into submission. They don’t care about passengers – or Britain’s railway – but they will not break us.

‘Train drivers at these companies have not had a pay rise for four years – since 2019 = while inflation has rocketed, We haven’t heard a word from the employers – we haven’t had a meeting, a phone call, a text message, or an email – since Wednesday 26 April, and we haven’t had any contact with the government since Friday 6 January. This shows how the contempt in which the companies, and the government, hold passengers and staff and public transport in Britain.

‘They are happy to let this drift on and on. But we are determined to get a fair pay rise for men and women who haven’t had one for four years while inflation has reached double figures. Our members, perfectly reasonably, want to be able to buy now what they could buy back in 2019.’

Note to editors:

We have, so far, called 11 one-day strikes during this 15-month dispute. Our first ballots went out in June last year and our members withdrew their labour on Saturday 30 July 2022; Saturday 13 August; Saturday 1 October; Wednesday 5 October; Saturday 26 November; Thursday 5 January 2023; Wednesday 1 February; Friday 3 February; Friday 12 May; Wednesday 31 May; and Saturday 3 June.

We have also withdrawn rest day working – as the rail industry calls non-contractual overtime, which is, of course, voluntary, not mandatory – and is ‘action short of a strike’ from Monday 15 to Saturday 20 May; from Monday 3 to Saturday 8 July; from Monday 17 to Saturday 22 July; from Monday 31 July to Saturday 5 August; and from Monday 7 to Saturday 12 August.

Our negotiating team – general secretary Mick Whelan, assistant general secretary Simon Weller, and executive committee president Dave Calfe –  met representatives of the employers, under the framework of the Rail Industry Recovery Group, on Tuesday 7 February; Thursday 16 February; Tuesday 21 February; Thursday 2 March; Tuesday 21 March; Tuesday 4 April; Thursday 13 April; and Wednesday 26 April to try to resolve this dispute.