Drivers belonging to ASLEF are striking at 14 English train operators today, and ASLEF leader Mick Whelan is warning that more walkouts are possible unless there is a settlement in the meantime.
Train services are also being disrupted this week by two 48-hour RMT strikes, the first of which was on Tuesday and Wednesday and the second will be tomorrow and Saturday. RMT walkouts include Network Rail staff, and many lines are closed because no signallers are available. About one in five services run, but only on some key routes.
Speaking to the BBC this morning, Mick Whelan said: ‘What we see at the moment is just a blanket “we want not to pay you, and we don’t want to pay you for what you do”. That isn’t working together or making offers to change working practices.’
It has been reported that drivers are being offered an annual pay rise of £2000, but Mr Whelan responded: ‘If that turns out to be an offer and they’ve leaked it to the press … I think that’s self defeating. It breaches the trust and the honourability of the negotations that we’re in. I keep being asked, quite naturally, “would you accept this?”. I don’t know what the strings are.’
He added: ‘I would much rather be here arguing against future cuts to our timetables … I would rather be talking to you about the green agenda and investment. I would rather talk about growth. I want to get back to my day job.’
The operators affected today are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Govia Thameslink Railway (including Gatwick Express), Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Heathrow Express, LNER, West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern and West Midlands Railway), Northern, South Western Railway (including Island Line), Southeastern and TransPennine Express.