Employment

Train drivers to stage more strikes in May, ASLEF union announces: 'We won't back down'

ASLEF members will conduct a set of rolling 24-hour strikes between 7 May and 9 May, the union has announced

Train strikes will cripple rail services across the UK. Credit By NotADev - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=133918503

Train drivers will strike again the week of the early May bank holiday, bringing much of the UK’s rail network to a standstill.

ASLEF members will conduct a set of rolling 24-hour strikes between 7 May and 9 May, the union has announced – just weeks after a similar round of industrial action crippled services across the country. Overtime will also be banned for six days from 6 May.

ASLEF – which represents 96% of Britain’s train drivers – insist that its members haven’t received a pay rise in more than half a decade.

The government have “given up” trying to resolve the dispute, said Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary.

“It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies – and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected,” he declared.

In 2023, drivers were offered a two-year deal representing a 4% increase on their salary annually. But the deal came with strings attached: changes to working conditions including working a set number of Sundays.

“Since then train drivers have voted, again and again, to take action to get a pay rise. That’s why Mark Harper, the transport secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that offer should have been put to members,” Whelan said.

“Drivers would not vote to strike if they thought an offer was acceptable. They don’t. And that offer – now a year old – is dead in the water.”

In the most recent ballot, some 98% of ASLEF drivers voted to strike, with a turnout of 70%

When will train drivers strike?

The scheduled strikes are:

Tuesday 7 May: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway main line and depot drivers, and SWR Island Line.

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

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

The walkouts follow similar strikes in April, when thousands of trains were cancelled. Whelan said that strikes will continue until the The Rail Delivery Group – the umbrella organisation representing Britain’s mainline rail operators – and ASLEF come to an agreement.

“The employers – and the government – think we are going to give up and run away,” he said. “They’re wrong. In the words of Tom Petty, we won’t back down…”

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