Train drivers across rail companies to stage fresh strikes in May, Aslef announces

The UK has seen almost two years of industrial action on its railways, with hundreds of millions of journeys cancelled

Benjamin Parker
Monday 22 April 2024 14:18 BST
Planned strikes by London Underground drivers called off while train drivers to walk out this weekend

Fresh travel disruption will impact rail passengers in May as train drivers at rail companies across England will stage a new series of strikes in a bitter, long-running dispute.

Members of the Aslef union will walk out on 7–9 May over pay, and ban overtime for six days from 6 May – the early May bank holiday Monday.

Drivers at c2c, Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway will strike on 7 May.

On 8 May there will be strikes affecting Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands Trains.

Most operators will not run any trains on strike days.

Although the strikes affect train companies in England, cross-border services to Wales and Scotland are likely to see some knock-on effects.

The union said that after its members voted overwhelmingly in February to continue taking industrial action, it asked the train operating companies to hold talks. Aslef said train drivers have not had an increase in salary for five years, since their last pay deals expired in 2019.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected.

“We first balloted for industrial action in June 2022, after three years without a pay rise. It took eight one-day strikes to persuade the train operating companies [Tocs] to come to the table and talk. Our negotiating team met the Rail Delivery Group [RDG] on eight occasions – the last being on Wednesday April 26 last year.

“That was followed by the Tocs’ ‘land grab’ for all our terms and conditions on Thursday April 27 – which was immediately rejected. Since then train drivers have voted, again and again, to take action to get a pay rise.

“That’s why Mark Harper, the transport secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that offer should have been put to members. Drivers would not vote to strike if they thought an offer was acceptable.”

Mr Whelan said the year-old offer of a 4 per cent pay rise followed by a second 4 per cent increase was “dead in the water”.

The Independent has contacted the Department for Transport for comment.

A spokesperson for the RDG, which represents the train operators, said: “This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aself leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses once again, while further damaging the railway at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week just to keep services running.

“We continue to seek a fair agreement with the Aslef leadership which both rewards our people, gives our customers more reliable services and makes sure the railway isn’t taking more than its fair share from taxpayers.”

The latest industrial action comes after thousands of trains were halted during a string of rolling strikes in early April.

Before that, an overtime ban and rolling regional walk-outs hit for nine days from 29 January to 6 February.

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