Train drivers are to strike on 1 and 3 February as the dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions rumbles on.
Aslef rejected a proposal put forward by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which would have seen drivers receive a 4% pay increase for two years in a row, including an award for this year and a backdated offer covering 2022.
Train driver members of the Union of Rail and Maritime Transport workers (RMT) will also join the industrial action on both dates, as its own negotiations with rail operators continue this week.
It will mean that drivers across 15 train operating companies will strike, causing significant disruption to services.
Aslef union members have already staged six one-day strikes over the past six months in their dispute over pay and working conditions.
Aslef said the RDG’s proposal was “not and could not ever be acceptable”, but its general secretary Mick Whelan said the union was open to further talks.
Whelan said: “Not only is the offer a real-terms pay cut, with inflation running north of 10%, but it came with so many conditions attached that it was clearly unacceptable. Our members at these companies have not had an increase since 2019, despite soaring inflation, and it is time the companies – encouraged, perhaps, by the government – sat down with us and got serious.”
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which recommends train operators in pay negotiations, said of the Aslef dispute: “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.”