ASLEF: Train Drivers' Union Announces New Strike Date
ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has announced another one-day strike on Thursday 5 January after members at 15 train companies voted overwhelmingly for more walk-outs in a long-running dispute over pay.
The strike will bring services on affected lines to a halt and comes as more and more people in many different sectors of the economy are withdrawing their labour as employers refuse to help their employees during this cost of living crisis.
‘We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place,’ said Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, which represents 96% of the train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales. ‘They have not offered our members at these companies a penny – and these are people who have not had an increase since April 2019.
‘That means they expect train drivers at these companies to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard for considerably less – when inflation is running at north of 14%.’
Mick added: ‘The train companies say their hands have been tied by the government. While the government – which does not employ us – says it’s up to the companies to negotiate with us. We are always happy to negotiate – we never refuse to sit down at the table and talk – but these companies have offered us nothing. And that is unacceptable.’
ASLEF had to ballot members again as a mandate, under the law, is only valid for six months. And members voted overwhelmingly – again – to take strike action.
‘The resolve of our members is rock steady,’ said Mick. ‘A 93% “Yes” vote – up on the very high figure last time – on an average turnout of 85% shows that our members are in this for the long haul. It shows just how angry – and determined – we are.
‘We now have a new mandate for industrial action for the next six months. The way to stop this is for the companies to make a serious and sensible offer and for the government not to put a spoke in the wheels.
‘We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use the railway, too, and we believe in investing in rail for the future of our country – and drivers don’t want to lose a day’s pay. That’s why strikes are always a last resort. But the intransigent attitude of the train companies – with the government acting, with malice, in the shadows – has forced our hand.
‘Because these drivers – who were, don’t forget, the people who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise for nearly four years.
‘With inflation running at 14% the companies – and the government – are saying that they want us to take a real-terms pay cut. The companies need to come to the table with a proper proposal to help our members, their drivers, buy this year what they could buy last year. That is the way to prevent another strike and all the disruption that causes. The ball is now firmly in the train companies’ court. And we are calling on the government to help – and not hinder – the negotiating process.’
Notes to editors:
 The companies affected include Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; South Western Railway (depot drivers only); SWR Island Line; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.
 We have already called five one-day strikes this year – drivers withdrew their labour on Saturday 30 July; Saturday 13 August; Saturday 1 October, Wednesday 5 October; and Saturday 26 November.
 We have successfully negotiated pay deals with 12 train companies this year – DB Cargo; Eurostar; Freightliner Heavy Haul; Freightliner Intermodal; GB Railfreight; Grand Central; Merseyrail; MTR Elizabeth line; Nexus; PRE Metro Operations; ScotRail; and Transport for Wales – and are in dispute only with those companies which have failed to offer their drivers – our members – anything. Drivers who have not have an increase since 2019.
In addition, an offer from Arriva Rail London (London Overground) has been put to members with a recommendation to accept.
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