Trade union Aslef has announced a new strike on Thursday 15 September, which will see train drivers walk out at 12 train operating companies in a dispute over pay, as the TSSA union announces a separate train strike on 26-27 September.
Aslef, which represents 96% of train drivers, said the action will affect the following train companies: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.
The RMT Union has also confirmed that 40,000 members working at Network Rail and 14 operating companies will also walk out on 15 September, with an additional strike on Saturday 17 September.
“We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced,” said Mick Whelan, the Aslef general secretary. “Because we don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand.
“They want train drivers to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard this year as last, but for 10% less. Because inflation is now in double figures and heading higher – much higher, according to some forecasts – and yet the train companies have offered us nothing.”
Yesterday, Goldman Sachs economists suggested that rising wholesale energy costs could mean that inflation hits 22.4% in January 2023 and Citigroup has forecast inflation at 18%.
“We want the companies – which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses – to make a proper pay offer to help our members keep up with the increase in the cost of living. That’s why we are calling on the companies today to do the right thing – the decent thing – and come back to the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept.”
Aslef members have already walked out for 24 hours on Saturday 30 July and on Saturday 13 August, but this is the first strike to take place on a working day.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies, previously said when Aslef announced its latest ballot: “We want to give our people a pay rise, but to fund it unions must recognise that as an industry that has lost 20% of its revenue, we can either adapt or decline.
“Instead of causing further disruption to passengers and businesses, we urge the Aslef leadership to continue talks so we can change our services to meet new travel patterns, improve punctuality and secure a bright, long-term future for our people.”
Earlier today the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) announced that its members will take part in a 24-hour strike starting at midday on Monday 26 September at nine train companies.
TSSA union leader Manuel Cortes said: “The dead hand of Grant Shapps is sadly stopping DfT train operating companies from making a revised, meaningful offer. Frankly, he either sits across the negotiating table with our union or gets out of the way to allow railway bosses to freely negotiate with us, as they have done in the past.
“The reason for the current impasse lies squarely at Shapps’ door and passengers are paying a high price for his incompetence and intransigence. I welcome the fact that negotiations are ongoing with Network Rail and the gap towards a resolution is narrowing. Time will tell whether a deal can be done to avert our next strike.”
The action will take place at Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, LNER and Southeastern, where strikes took place on 18 and 20 August; and at TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains, both train operators where TSSA members voted last week in favour of strike action.