Travel disruption is to be expected next month after members of the UK’s largest train driver union announced plans for further strike action in a dispute over pay.
Aslef, who represent 96% of train drivers across Scotland, England and Wales, are planning to walk out at 12 different operating companies for two days of strike action on Saturday, October 1 and Wednesday, October 5.
However, the Rail Delivery Group told STV News the strikes will “hugely inconvenience the very passengers the industry needs to support.”
Services which stop at Glasgow Queen Street, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley are among those expected to be disrupted.
The dispute over pay for members had initially resulted in strike action being planned for September 15.
However, this was postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral on September 8.
No further comment on the dispute was made as a mark of respect for the late monarch until after the state funeral on Monday, however the compulsory 14 days notice of strike action was given to companies on September 16.
It comes after strikes in July and August this year resulted in successful pay negotiations with nine train companies across the country, including Scotrail.
The further strike plans are aimed at the 12 train companies who have not yet made an acceptable offer to Aslef members.
Workers at Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; Greater Anglia; Great Western Railway; Hull Trains; LNER; London Overground; Northern Trains; Southeastern; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said: “We would much rather not be in this position.
“We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing your labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for this trade union – but the train companies have been determined to force our hand.
“They are telling train drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now running at 12.3% – and set, it is said, to go higher – these companies are saying that drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, for just as long, but for considerably less.
“The companies with whom we are in dispute have not offered us a penny. It is outrageous that they expect us to put up with a real terms pay cut for a third year in a row. And that’s why we are going on strike. To persuade the companies to be sensible, to do the right thing, and come and negotiate properly with us. Not to run up and say, ‘Our hands are tied and the government will not allow us to offer you an increase’.”
He added: “Train drivers kept Britain moving – key workers and goods around the country – throughout the pandemic and we deserve to be treated better than this. That’s why we are calling on the companies – which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses – to make a pay offer to our members to keep up with the rise in the cost of living.”
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “These strikes will once again hugely inconvenience the very passengers the industry needs to support its recovery from the ongoing impact of the pandemic. They range from those left out of pocket because they can’t get to work, to people missing vital appointments and to thousands of London marathon participants, who, after months of training, will have their journeys to London disrupted at the weekend.
“The strikes are not in the long-term interests of rail workers or building a sustainable rail industry. We want to give our people a pay rise, but without the reforms we are proposing, we simply cannot deliver pay increases. Revenue is still around 80% of pre pandemic levels, no business can survive that scale of upheaval without implementing change.
“The actions of union leaders have very real consequences: every strike day takes more money out of their members’ pockets. We want to see the industry and its people thrive – we are asking the unions’ leadership to do the right thing, call off these damaging strikes and work with us to make that happen.”