Train drivers to strike on 1 and 3 February after pay deal rejected | Rail industry

Train drivers are to stage fresh strikes after rejecting a pay offer worth 8% over two years.

Members of Aslef will strike on 1 and 3 February, in a move expected to halt most train services across 14 train operating companies, including intercity and commuter routes.

The first strike will coincide with industrial action by 100,000 civil servants in their dispute over pay and jobs, a strike by teachers over pay and nationwide protests against the government’s controversial new strike law.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said the proposal “came with so many conditions attached that it was clearly unacceptable. But we are willing to engage in further discussions with the train operating companies.”

Aslef’s eight-strong executive committee had met since Monday afternoon to consider the proposals from the Rail Delivery Group. Whelan, who had been angered by the offer’s release to the media before he had seen it, had already warned that there was “zero chance” of his members accepting a deal that was below inflation and worsened their terms.

He added: “It’s now clear to our members, and to the public, that this was never about reform or modernisation but an attempt to get hundreds of millions of pounds of productivity for a 20% pay cut while taking away any hope of the union having any say in the future.

“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.”

The companies affected include Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; South Western Railway (depot drivers only); SWR Island Line; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.

If the industrial action goes ahead, the two days will be the seventh and eighth national strikes by Aslef in the past year.

Talks will continue this week between the rail industry and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, amid relative optimism that a deal can be reached.

Separate negotiations were set to resume between both Network Rail and the RDG with the RMT leadership on Tuesday, although the union said it was yet to receive any new proposals in writing. Controversial clauses in an RDG pay offer rejected by the RMT in December – particularly concerning driver-only operation – are expected to be removed or substantially amended to allow progress in the talks.

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, has said there was scope for a “better deal” after meeting union leaders last week, adding that he believed both sides were keen to reach agreement.

The dispute has cost the rail industry an estimated £400m in lost revenue, according to Network Rail.

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