A train drivers’ union has announced a new series of strikes in the run-up to Christmas.
Workers represented by ASLEF will be taking industrial action over a series of dates in December as part of their long-running dispute with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which is part of the negotiations with unions, train companies and the government.
The RMT union, headed by Mick Lynch, recently announced it was putting a pay offer to its members in a bid to end its strikes.
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The ASLEF action includes strikes at:
• EMR and LNER on 2 December;
• Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and WMT on 3 December;
• C2C and Greater Anglia on 5 December;
• Southeastern, Southern and Gatwick Express, the SWR main line and depot, and on the Island Line on 6 December;
• CrossCountry and GWR on 7 December;
• Northern and TPT on 8 December.
ASLEF members will also refuse to work overtime from 1 December to 9 December.
Speaking about the impact on the festive market, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These strikes will hit hospitality businesses at the start of the critical festive period and will devastate trading during one of the busiest weeks of the year, costing the sector up to £800m.
“The ongoing rail dispute has already cost the sector £3.5bn over the past year and a half and continues to disrupt businesses, prevent staff from working and interrupt families’ Christmas plans.”
The union and the RDG have been involved in the dispute for months – with numerous strikes having taken place.
The workers’ group has accused the government of undermining negotiations by hamstringing the position of train companies.
“We are determined to win this dispute and get a significant pay rise for train drivers who have not had an increase since 2019, while the cost of living, in that time, has soared,” ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said.
“The transport secretary, who has gone missing in action during this dispute, says we should put the offer to our members.
“What the minister apparently fails to understand is that, since the Rail Delivery Group’s risible offer in April, we have received overwhelming mandates, on enormous turnouts, for more industrial action.
“Our members have spoken and we know what they think. Every time they vote – and they have voted overwhelmingly – for strike action in pursuit of a proper pay rise it is a clear rejection of the offer that was made in April.
“The RDG’s offer – a land grab for all our terms and conditions – was made in the full knowledge that it couldn’t – and wouldn’t – be accepted.”
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The union blamed the RDG and the government for getting in the way of deals that had been agreed in principle with 16 train operating companies.
ASLEF has held 14 one-day strikes during the 18-month dispute, causing huge disruption to services across the country.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that ASLEF are targeting the public and hospitality businesses at the beginning of the festive period, when there is a fair and reasonable pay offer for train drivers on the table that would take their salary up to an average of £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.
“Taxpayers contributed £1,000 per household to protect train drivers’ jobs during the pandemic. Instead of going on strike, ASLEF should be following in the footsteps of the other rail unions and giving their members a vote on this fair pay deal.”