ASLEF calls new series of rolling strikes

ASLEF has called a new series of strikes for early April, which will affect most operators in England over several days. The union has also announced a series of bans on rest day working and two days of strikes on London Underground.

The union’s members will walk out at Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains and CrossCountry on Friday 5 April, at Chiltern Railways, GWR, LNER, Northern and TransPennine Express on 6 April, and at c2c, Greater Anglia, Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and South Western Railway (main line, depot drivers and Island Line) on 8 April.

They will also refuse to work rest days from Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 April and from Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 April.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Last month, when we announced renewed mandates for industrial action, because, under the Tories’ draconian anti-union laws, we have to ballot our members every six months, we called on the train companies, and the government, to come to the table for meaningful talks to negotiate a new pay deal for train drivers who have not had an increase in salary since 2019.

‘Since then train drivers have voted, time and again, to take action in pursuit of 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 wouldn’t vote for industrial action, again and again and again, if they thought that was a good offer. They don’t. That offer was dead in the water in April last year – and Mr Harper knows that.

‘We asked Mr Harper, or his deputy, the rail minister Huw Merriman, to come and meet us. We asked the RDG and the TOCs to come and talk to us. We said: “Let’s sit around the table and negotiate.” Because you say you don’t want any more industrial action, and we don’t want to disrupt the rail network, but the Tories and the TOCs have given us no choice.

‘We haven’t heard from Mr Harper, Mr Merriman, the RDG, or the TOCs since those new mandates were announced four weeks ago. In fact, Mr Harper hasn’t deigned to talk to us since December 2022; Mr Merriman hasn’t talked to us since January 2023; and the RDG has not seen fit to join us in the room since April last year.’

The Rail Delivery Group responded: ‘Nobody wins when industrial action impacts people's lives and livelihoods, and we will work hard to minimise any disruption to our passengers.

‘We want to resolve this dispute, but the ASLEF leadership need to recognise that hard-pressed taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54 million a week just to keep services running post-Covid. We continue to seek an agreement with the ASLEF leadership and remain open to talks to find a solution to this dispute.’

Meanwhile, members of ASLEF who drive London Underground trains will strike on 8 April and 4 May.

ASLEF’s full-time organiser on London Underground Finn Brennan said the walkouts were part of a long-running dispute over ‘London Underground’s failure to give assurances that changes to our members’ terms and conditions will not be imposed without agreement and that all existing agreements will be honoured’. 

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