Train drivers announce new strikes in December

Man waiting at train platform
Man waiting at train platform

Train drivers are set to stage a fresh round of strikes in their long-running dispute over pay.

The Aslef union has announced a "rolling programme" of walkouts between 2 and 8 December, with different train companies affected on each day.

Drivers will also refuse to work any overtime from 1 to 9 December.

Aslef said it was time for a "proper pay rise" but the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents operators, called the action "wholly unnecessary".

UK Hospitality, which represents hospitality businesses, warned the strikes would hit the industry in the "critical festive period", costing it up to £800m in losses.

"Hospitality businesses rely on revenue made during the busy festive period to see them through the fallow months of January to March, so it's essential strikes during December are avoided," said boss Kate Nicholls.

Little progress has been made in the 18-month long row, with Aslef bosses rejecting a pay offer back in spring.

The union has held 14 one-day strikes so far, causing huge disruption to train companies in England, as well as some services which cross borders.

"Our members have spoken and we know what they think. Every time they vote - and they have voted overwhelmingly - for strike action in pursuit of a proper pay rise it is a clear rejection of the offer that was made in April," said Aslef's general secretary Mick Whelan.

Which train company will be affected on what day?

  • Saturday 2 December at East Midlands Railway and LNER

  • Sunday 3 December at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and West Midlands Trains

  • Tuesday 5 December at C2C and Greater Anglia

  • Wednesday 6 December at Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, SWR main line, SWR depot drivers, and Island Line

  • Thursday 7 December at CrossCountry and GWR

  • Friday 8 December at Northern and TPT

Services are expected to be cancelled on strike days, causing disruption for passengers.

"We are determined to win this dispute," said Mr Whelan, as he criticised Transport Secretary Mark Harper who he said had "gone missing in action during this dispute". The union boss described the pay offer made from the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, as "risible".

The offer put forward in April included a series of changes to working practices and a pay deal which included a 4% wage rise backdated for 2022 and a further 4% rise for 2023.

The median salary for train drivers was £59,189 per year in 2021.

The RDG said the pay rise on offer was "fair and affordable", adding that the walkouts would "disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period".

The Department for Transport accused Aslef of "targeting the public" and said its members should be given a vote on latest the pay offer.

Separately, rail workers in the RMT union are voting on whether to accept a deal in their dispute over pay, job security and working conditions.

That vote closes on 30 November, the day before Aslef's new industrial action begins.

Both unions have been locked in a row with train companies over pay and working conditions, leading to regular strikes over the past 18 months.

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