Train strikes: Nationwide disruption as 24-hour drivers’ strike begins this week over pay dispute
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Train passengers are facing fresh disruption this week following a series of strike action taking place in parts of England over the long-running dispute between the unions and the government concerning pay, jobs and conditions.
Aslef, which represents UK train drivers from 16 rail companies, initiated a 24-hour strike from Wednesday (May 31) and a further day of industrial action is planned for Saturday (June 3), which coincides with the day of the FA Cup final.
Rail operators involved have issued a travel warning as there will be no services on strike days or have them severely reduced and passengers have been urged to plan their journey before travelling.
Meanwhile, members of the RMT union will walk out across England on Friday, June 2 over a long-running pay dispute. The strike action involves 20,000 rail workers at 14 train operators, including station staff, train managers and catering workers.
The latest wave of industrial action is set to hit the majority of the train network with no services on networks including Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCounty, East Midlands Railway, Great Northern, Southern, Southeastern, Thameslink and Northern.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said no negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute were taking place. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) said it had “facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer.”
He told the Guardian: “There are no negotiations since they came out with yet another deal that contained all our ‘red lines’. If you spend months in a room, tell people things aren’t acceptable to you, then they produce a deal that contains those things then they are setting the deal up to fail.
“That is a deliberate act on behalf of both the government and the people that we’re dealing with. They do not apparently want a resolution. They seem to want (a) thousands of per cent productivity (increase) for a 20% pay cut.”
The strikes come after both Aslef and RMT rejected a pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which represents rail operators. Both unions have said the government is preventing the train companies from making an acceptable offer, which ministers deny.
The strike action on Saturday will hit passengers wanting to travel from Manchester to London for the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United the most amid the half-term holiday break. RDG said people should not travel by trains on Saturday, the day of the match.
A DfT spokesperson said: “Not content with impacting the hundreds of people who have looked forward to these events all year round, unions are also targeting their own members’ pockets by forcing them to miss out on pay every time they strike.
“The government has facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer, now union leaders must do the right thing and put this to their members.”