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UK train drivers to strike next month in coordinated move

FILE PHOTO: Rail workers that are members of the ASLEF union go on strike in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Thousands of British train drivers will stage a fresh two-day walkout next month over a pay dispute, the country's main transport workers' unions said on Tuesday in a coordinated move that will cause further disruption to travel.

The ASLEF union said roughly 12,500 train drivers will participate in strikes planned for Feb. 1 and 3 after rejecting a pay offer, while the RMT union said a few hundred of its members at 14 rail operators will take industrial action on the same dates.

Railway employees have been striking regularly since last summer as they seek better pay to cope with rising prices. Their last round of action during the Christmas holiday season impacted sales at some hospitality firms.

With Britain facing its most serious period of industrial unrest in decades, teachers and 100,000 other public sector workers, including border force staff, are also due to walk out on Feb. 1 in pay disputes.

Earlier this month, rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said it had offered ASLEF an improved pay offer in exchange for reforms to how the railways are run. ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said on Tuesday that the proposal was "not and could not ever be acceptable."

"They want to rip up our terms and conditions in return for a real-terms pay cut," Whelan said, adding that the union was willing to engage in further discussions.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said it was disappointing the offer had not been put to the union's members.

"Rather than announcing further unnecessary strikes, we ask ASLEF to recognise the very real financial challenge the industry is facing and work with us to deliver a better railway with a strong long-term future," the spokesperson said.

RMT, which has over 80,000 members in various transport sectors, also said it will continue its talks with rail operators.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Farouq Suleiman, additional reporting by Muvija M; editing by William James and Sachin Ravikumar)