The union ASLEF, which represents train drivers, has announced a new one-day strike on Thursday 5 January 2023.
Members of 15 train operating companies will drop out in the ongoing wage row.
The strike will affect Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink, London North Eastern Railway, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway (depot drivers) only. ), SWR Island Line, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
Five strikes have already been taken at ASLEF in 2022, successfully negotiating payment deals with DB Cargo, Eurostar, Freightliner, GB Railfreight, Grand Central, Merseyrail, MTR Elizabeth Line, Nexus, PRE Metro Operations, ScotRail and Transport for Wales. An offer from Arriva Rail London has been made to the members with a recommendation to accept it.
“We don’t want to go on strike, but companies have pushed us into this place,” said Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, which represents 96% of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales. They haven’t offered our members at these companies a penny – and these are the people who haven’t had a raise since April 2019.
“This means that they expect the train drivers at these companies to cut wages in real terms – to work the same amount of effort for much less – when inflation is above 14%.”
Meek added: ‘The train companies say they have their hands tied by the government. While the government – which does not employ us – says it is up to the companies to negotiate with us. We are always happy to negotiate – we never refuse to sit at the table and talk – but these companies have given us nothing. This is not acceptable.
“The design of our members is very consistent,” said Meek. A 93% ‘yes’ vote – up from the very high number last time – with an average turnout of 85% shows our members are in on this for the long haul. It shows how angry – and determined – we are.
We now have a new mandate for an industrial strike for the next six months. The way to stop this is for companies to make a serious and reasonable offer and for the government not to put words in the wheel.
We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use the railways too, and we believe in investing in the railways for the future of our country – and drivers don’t want to lose a day’s wages. This is why strikes are always a last resort. But the hardening stance of the train companies—with the government acting, in sly, in the shadows—forced us.
Because those drivers — who were, don’t forget, the people who ferried key workers and cargo across the country during the pandemic — haven’t had a pay raise in nearly four years.
With inflation soaring to 14%, companies – and the government – say they want us to take a real wage cut. Companies need to come to the table with a proper proposal to help our members and their drivers buy what they could buy last year this year. This is the way to prevent another strike and all the disruption it causes. The ball is now firmly in the court of the railway companies. We call on the government to assist – not hinder – the negotiation process.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Further strikes – on top of those already announced by RMT – will disrupt New Year’s travel plans for millions, drawing more money from the pockets of railway staff.
“Industrial work has already cost the industry millions in lost revenue, and further strikes threaten the long-term sustainability of the industry. No one wants this strike to continue, and we can only apologize to the commuters and to the many businesses that will be affected by this devastating disruption.”
“We want to work with Aslef to end this dispute that harms commuters, the industry and its members.”
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