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Rail workers to stage fresh strikes

·3-min read

Train drivers and other railway workers are to stage a fresh wave of strikes in the long-running dispute which has crippled services in recent weeks.

Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef will walk out at 12 train companies on September 15, threatening travel chaos across the country.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) also announced that its members at nine train operating companies as well as Network Rail (NR) will walk out from midday on September 26.

The stoppages will continue the series of strikes by tens of thousands of workers in several sectors of the economy this year amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced, because we don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand.

“They want train drivers to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard this year as last, but for 10% less.

“Because inflation is now in double figures and heading higher – much higher, according to some forecasts – and yet the train companies have offered us nothing.

“And this for train drivers who kept Britain moving – key workers and goods around the country – throughout the pandemic and who have not had an increase in salary since 2019.

“We want the companies, which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses, to make a proper pay offer to help our members keep up with the increase in the cost of living.

“That’s why we are calling on the companies today to do the right thing, the decent thing, and come back to the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept.”

Aslef members at Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; Greater Anglia; Great Western Railway; Hull Trains; LNER; London Overground; Northern Trains; Southeastern; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains will strike on September 15.

On Wednesday, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch told the PA news agency: “The strikes have been named by two other unions, so we will consider our action tomorrow.

“It is highly likely that we will have further industrial action, it’s almost a certainty.”

Drivers have already walked out for 24 hours on July 30 and August 13.

Aslef pointed out that this year it has successfully concluded pay deals with nine companies: DB Cargo; Eurostar; Freightliner Heavy Haul; Freightliner Intermodal; GB Railfreight; Merseyrail; MTR Elizabeth line; PRE Metro Operations; and ScotRail and has multi-year deals in place with several other companies.

Negotiations are being held with Direct Rail Services and Transport for Wales.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “For the ninth time this summer, union leaders are choosing self-defeating strike action over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who rely on these services but jeopardising the future of the railways and their own members’ livelihoods.

“These reforms deliver the modernisations our rail network urgently needs, are essential to the future of rail, and will happen; strikes will not change this.”