Rail misery continues as train drivers vote to go on strike for another six months

1 December 2023, 11:55 | Updated: 1 December 2023, 11:57

Aslef train drivers have voted to go on strike
Aslef train drivers have voted to go on strike. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Chaos on the railways is set to continue for the next six months after train drivers with the Aslef union voted to go on strike.

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The train drivers have agreed to walk out as part of an ongoing dispute over their salaries.

It comes as the Aslef union, which counts representing 96% of train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales as members, has promised rolling strikes between 1 and 9 December.

Meanwhile RMT members agreed yesterday to a backdated pay rise of 5% for 2022-2023, as well as job security guarantees.

Announcing the new strike action, Aslef General secretary Mick Whelan said: "We are in this for the long haul. Our members who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now are determined that the train companies and the Tory government that stands behind them do the right thing.

Read more: Rail strike threat ends until at least Spring as RMT union votes to accept pay deal

Read more: Will your train journey be affected over the Christmas period? December strikes explained

Watch again: Andrew Marr is joined by Mick Lynch

"The cost of living has soared since the spring and summer of 2019, when these pay deals ran out.

"The bosses at the train companies - as well as Tory MPs and government ministers - have had increases in pay. It's unrealistic and unfair to expect our members to work just as hard for what, in real terms, is considerably less."

Aslef said they hadn't met Transport Secretary Mark Harper for around a year, and the private train companies sicne April.

The Aslef strikes over the first nine days of December are a "rolling programme" of walkouts, with different train companies affected on each day.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said of the December strikes: "This unnecessary and avoidable industrial action called by the Aslef leadership has been targeted to disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period, where people will be attending events and catching up with friends and loved ones.

"It will also inflict further damage on an industry that is receiving up to an additional £175 million a month in taxpayer cash to keep services running, following the Covid downturn.

"The Aslef leadership are blocking a fair and affordable offer made by industry in the spring which would take average driver base salaries for a four-day week from £60,000 to nearly £65,000.

"We urge them to put it to its members, give Christmas back to our customers, and end this damaging industrial dispute."