Participation of two unions will significantly disrupt local services
Operators affected include South Western Railway and Great Western Railway
January 18, 2023
Train drivers who are members of the RMT will be joining those representing ASLEF in two days of strikes at the beginning of February.
The unions will be continuing the dispute over pay and conditions by instructing their members not to turn up for work on Wednesday 1 and Friday 3 February.
The RMT announced the strike on 17 January just before the deadline which requires them to give 14 days’ notice. This means that services on South Western Railway (SWR) including those calling at Brentford, Chiswick, Putney, Wandsworth and Wimbledon, will be more severely affected than originally hoped as most of its drivers are RMT members with only depot drivers being ASLEF members.
Other train operating companies that will be affected include Great Western Railway, LNER and GTR which operates the Gatwick Express.
Drivers working for London Underground will not be participating in the strike as the unions have recommended acceptance of a pay offer from Arriva. Elizabeth Line drivers have already accepted a pay offer and drivers for Southern are not involved in the dispute.
1 February is a TUC day of action on which several unions are co-ordinating strike action across the country.
The dispute is over pay, job cuts and changes to terms and conditions. The unions want pay rises that reflect the high inflation rate, after many drivers have had no pay increases since 2019, but the rail industry has financial problems due to the fall in passenger numbers since the pandemic. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies, has made an offer to drivers of a backdated pay rise of 4% for 2022 and a 4% increase this year.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF described this as a ‘rushed offer’ saying that it took six and a half months to bring it to the table.
He added, ‘The proposal is not and could not ever be acceptable but we are willing to engage in further discussions within the process that we previously agreed.’
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, "Our negotiations will continue with the rail operators to create a package on jobs, conditions and pay that can be offered to our members."
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, said, before the RMT announcement, “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.”
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