Train drivers from 16 rail companies to strike in May Bank Holiday week

22 April 2024, 14:40 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 18:56

Train strikes will take place from 7 May until 9 May
Train strikes will take place from 7 May until 9 May. Picture: Alamy

By Will Conroy

Train drivers from 16 rail companies will stage a series of fresh strikes and an overtime ban during the week of the May Bank Holiday.

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The Aslef union announced drivers will take part in rolling one-day walkouts from 7 May until 9 May while a six-day overtime ban will begin on Bank Holiday Monday on 6 May.

This will affect all national rail operators contracted to the Department for Transport after members voted overwhelmingly in February to continue action.

Aslef is looking to settle a long-running pay dispute with the rail companies with little progress being made since they first took action in July 2022.

The union says drivers have not had a pay rise in five years since 2019 with the most recent deal being rejected in April 2023.

This deal offered drivers a two-year deal worth 4% annually, which Aslef said was less than what was offered to other parts of the industry.

General secretary Mick Whelan described this offer as “risible” and “dead in the water”.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan. Picture: Alamy

He added: "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 26 April last year.

"That was followed by the Tocs' 'land grab' for all our terms & conditions on Thursday 27 April - 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."

A spokesperson for the RDG said: "This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aslef 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 strikes will first take place at c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway on May 7.

Drivers will then walk out on May 8 at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railways and West Midlands Train.

Aslef members will then strike at LNER, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express on 9 May.

Passengers are encouraged to check before travelling, with the action likely to cause cancellations and delays.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "ASLEF’s leadership are acting like a broken record - calling for strike action time and time again while remaining the only rail union continuing to strike, as well as the only union refusing to put a fair and reasonable pay offer to its members for over a year.

"The Transport Secretary and Rail Minister have done their part to facilitate this pay offer, - one which would take train drivers’ salaries up to an average of £65,000 which is almost twice the average salary in the UK.

"ASLEF bosses should take the lead of the other rail unions, put this offer to their members and stop their campaign of contempt for passengers."