Train drivers at 12 companies vote to strike

Train drivers at 12 rail companies have voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action in a long-running row over pay and conditions.

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Aslef said the turnouts were “huge” – showing how angry its members are.

Unions have to re-ballot members for industrial action every six months.

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Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: “The resolve of our members is rock steady. A 93% “yes” vote – up on the very high figure last time – on an average turnout across the 12 companies of 85% shows that our members are in this for the long haul.

“We don’t want to go on strike. We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use the railway, too, and we believe in investing in rail for the future of our country – and drivers don’t want to lose a day’s pay. Strikes are always a last resort.

“But the intransigent attitude of the train companies – with the Government acting with malice in the shadows – has forced our hand.

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“Because these drivers, who were the people who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic, have not had a pay rise for nearly four years.

“With inflation running in excess of 14%, the companies and the Government are saying that they want us to take a real-terms pay cut.

“That’s why we are calling on the companies to come to the table with a proper proposal to help our members – their drivers – buy this year what they could buy last year.

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“That is the way to prevent another strike and all the disruption that causes. The ball is now firmly in the train companies’ court.

“We are calling on the Government to help, not hinder, the negotiating process.”

The companies affected include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, London North Eastern Railway, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway (depot drivers only), SWR Island Line and West Midlands Trains. Aslef, which has held five one-day strikes this year, said it has successfully negotiated pay deals with 11 train companies this year – DB Cargo, Eurostar, Freightliner Heavy Haul, Freightliner Intermodal, GB Railfreight, Grand Central, Merseyrail, MTR Elizabeth line, Nexus, PRE Metro Operations and ScotRail – and are in dispute only with those companies which have failed to offer their drivers anything.

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