Unions to meet BR as drivers vote to strike: Aslef threatens to maximise train disruption

UNION leaders will today meet British Rail in an attempt to avert a second round of industrial action which yesterday received the backing of the network's 16,000 train drivers.

Announcing the strike ballot result, Derrick Fullick, general secretary of the Aslef drivers' union, said his members would join other rail workers in a 24-hour stoppage on Friday week, but warned of worse to come if BR refused to compromise.

Unless BR gave assurances over redundancies and drivers' employment conditions, his union could mount stoppages on separate days to maximise disruption, he indicated.

Mr Fullick said that 55 per cent of Aslef members had voted for a rolling programme of day-long strikes in a 67 per cent turnout. He rejected suggestions that the majority in favour of industrial action in the postal ballot was disappointing. 'After all, only a minority of people voted for the Conservative Government,' he said.

Jimmy Knapp, leader of RMT, the biggest rail union, said he would be presenting a peace formula to today's meeting. 'There is still a mountain to climb, but if they are serious about negotiating an end to the dispute we believe there is a means of doing it without creating a precedent.'

BR has said that RMT's call for an assurance that there would be no compulsory redundancies amounted to a 'jobs for life' guarantee.

Senior RMT officials said the wording of a deal struck in 1984 had already laid down those assurances, but they had been lost subsequently during a reorganisation of the bargaining structure. The officials argue that restoring the 'meaning and intent' of that agreement would be sufficient to achieve a settlement.

RMT is seeking a commitment that management would attempt to find alternative employment within BR for those whose jobs were deemed to be redundant. 'We are not looking for a guarantee that everyone stays in the same job,' RMT officers said.

Paul Watkinson, BR's director of personnel, described the vote by Aslef members as a 'double blow' for the railway and its customers: 'We have already given Aslef a number of assurances,' he said. Today's meeting had been called in an attempt to find a way through the dispute. 'We certainly can't afford another damaging strike,' he said.

BR estimated that last Friday's stoppage, involving 68,000 members of RMT and 3,000 maintenance workers belonging to the AEEU engineering and electrical union cost it pounds 10m.

Mr Fullick said his union was normally used to 'abuse' from commuters over industrial action. 'In this case the reverse has applied. People have been ringing us saying that our campaign against rail cuts was fine, but when are we going to do something? They realise that there but for the grace of God go I' He hoped today's meeting would resolve the dispute. 'We don't want a strike and I'm sure nobody else does.'

London bus workers are also expected to mount a 24-hour strike on Friday week and leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers are today expected to follow suit.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific