Employment

May 2024 train strikes: Disruption as Aslef drivers walk out – here's everything you need to know

'We would get back to the negotiating table tomorrow,' insisted Aslef boss Mick Whelan

Train strikes will disrupt much of the network this week. Credit: Wiki Commons / Peter Glyn

Commuters are bracing for a week of chaos as the latest round of rolling train strikes begin.

Members of Aslef – the union representing 96% of Britain’s train drivers – will conduct a series of 24 hour walk-outs between Tuesday (7 May) and Thursday (9 May) this week.

The industrial action will impact 16 different train companies and shutter much of the UK’s rail network.

Drivers are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay. Speaking exclusively to the Big Issue, Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan insisted that “no worker wants to be on strike”.

“All the companies that we work for made hundreds of millions of pounds in the last 12 months or more, and apply that in dividends to shareholders, while the people who haven’t had a pay rise, still haven’t had a pay rise for half a decade,” he said.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest round of industrial action.

When are Aslef train drivers going on strike?

The strikes will cause severe disruption on impacted routes. In some places there may be no services at all on strike days, and services that are running will start later and finish much earlier than usual – typically running between 7.30am and 6.30pm. The following companies will be impacted:

Tuesday 7 May: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway.

Wednesday 8 May: Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands Trains.

Thursday 9 May: LNER, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express.

In addition to the above dates, union members will not work overtime between Monday 6 May and Saturday 11 May. You should check ahead before you travel; use National Rail’s journey planner to see when trains are running.

A spokesperson for Rail Delivery Group apologised for the “wholly unnecessary” strike action, blaming “Aslef leadership” for the disruption.   

“While we are working with our industry partners to keep as many trains running as possible, unfortunately there will be reduced services between Monday 6 and Saturday 11 May,” they said. “As the level of service will vary across the country, our advice is to check before you travel and follow the latest travel information.”

Why are workers going on strike?

The strikes are the latest action in a 22 month dispute over pay and working conditions.

Aslef claim its members have not had a pay rise since 2019, before unprecedented surges in inflation drove prices and bills sky-high. According to the ONS, the average salary for train and tram drivers is £59,000.

Negotiations stalled in spring 2023, when the Rail Delivery Group – which represents Britain’s private train operators – offered drivers two years of 4% pay increases on the condition that they accept changes to their work patterns.

Whelan told the Big Issue that presenting this deal as a pay rise was “dishonourable, deceitful, and disingenuous”.

“We would get back to the [negotiating] table tomorrow. But we will not give up our terms and conditions for any cost,” he said. “What we’re looking for is a dent in the cost of living.”

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