New rail strikes called in wake of talks

ASLEF and the RMT have both called new walkouts after talks between the unions and management last week failed.

There had been fresh hopes of a settlement, but the two unions have announced further strikes at train operators on 1 and 3 February.

ASLEF said it had rejected the latest proposal, although this had not been the result of negotiations, which was made by a ’cartel’ allegedly created by the government and which represents some operators.

The union’s general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘The proposal is not and could not ever be acceptable but we are willing to engage in further discussions within the process that we previously agreed.’

Drivers belonging to ASLEF at most English operators are now set to stage two 24-hour strikes on 1 and 3 February, although Merseyrail drivers are not involved, having just agreed a deal with Merseytravel about operating new trains.

The minority of drivers who belong to the RMT will also be striking on 1 and 3 February. The union added that hhe decision to strike on 1 February will coincide with a TUC ‘day of action’ where several unions are coordinating their strikes during the cost-of-living crisis.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our negotiations will continue with the rail operators to create a package on jobs, conditions and pay that can be offered to our members.’

The Rail Delivery Group responded: ‘It’s disappointing our fair and affordable offer, which would take average driver base salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000 by the end of 2023 pay awards, wasn’t put to the ASLEF members. 

‘With taxpayers still funding up to an extra £175 million a month to make up the shortfall in revenue post-Covid, it provided a significant salary uplift while bringing in long overdue, common-sense reforms that would mean more reliable services for passengers. 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 RDG also said that ‘although the discussions have been undertaken at a national level, each train operating company collectively bargains with local ASLEF representatives. The national agreement sets out the principles as the basis for those negotiations.’

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