ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has announced a one day strike at nine train companies on Saturday 13 August after the firms failed to make a pay offer to help members keep pace with the increase in the cost of living.
Drivers went on strike last Saturday [30 July] at seven companies and ASLEF members at two more train companies voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in a dispute over pay.
‘Strikes are always the last resort,’ said Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union. ‘We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport, too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies, who say they have been driven to this by the Tory government.
‘Many of our members – who were the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019.
‘With inflation running at north of 10% that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years. We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.
‘It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row. Especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and train drivers don’t want to work longer for less.’
Mick added: ‘Let’s nail a Tory lie. Wage rises aren’t fuelling inflation. Excess profiteering is. But the government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.
‘We don’t see why we should forego an increase in salary to keep pace with inflation and help the privatised train companies make even bigger profits to send abroad.’
Train drivers were asked two questions: Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike? Are you prepared to take part in industrial action consisting of a strike? These are the votes for strike action:
Avanti West Coast:
Yes: 477 [92.6%]
No: 38 [7.4%]
Yes: 497 [93.2%]
No: 36 [6.8%]
ASLEF’s executive committee immediately decided to call a strike at these two companies – as well as the other seven for which ASLEF already have a mandate for – on 13 August.
Further ballots close at Chiltern Railways; Northern Trains; and TransPennine Express on Thursday 25 August; and at East Midlands Railway on Monday 19 September.