Train drivers in the UK, represented by the Aslef union, are planning a fresh round of strikes in a longstanding dispute over pay. The strikes, scheduled for a “rolling programme” from December 2 to December 8, will affect different train companies each day. Additionally, drivers will refuse to work any overtime from December 1 to December 9. The union is demanding a “proper pay rise,” rejecting a pay offer made in April. The Rail Delivery Group, representing operators, called the action “wholly unnecessary,” while UK Hospitality warned of significant losses during the critical festive period. The dispute has been ongoing for 18 months, with little progress made despite previous strikes and rejected pay offers. The planned strikes are expected to cause disruption for passengers and the rail industry.
The Aslef union’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, criticised Transport Secretary Mark Harper, accusing him of being absent during the dispute. The union leader described the pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group as “risible.” The proposed pay deal in April included changes to working practices and a 4% wage rise for 2022, with an additional 4% rise for 2023. The median salary for train drivers in 2021 was £59,189 per year.
The Rail Delivery Group argued that the offered pay rise was “fair and affordable” and expressed concern that the strikes would disrupt customers and businesses, especially during the crucial festive period. The Department for Transport accused Aslef of “targeting the public” and called for members to have a vote on the latest pay offer.
Meanwhile, rail workers in the RMT union are voting on a deal in their separate dispute over pay, job security, and working conditions. The vote closes on November 30, one day before Aslef’s planned industrial action begins. Both unions have been engaged in conflicts with train companies over pay and working conditions, leading to repeated strikes over the past 18 months.