‘Strikes are the last resort’
Aslef announced its members will walk out on Saturday August 13, saying the firms failed to make a pay offer to help members keep pace with increases in the cost of living.
Drivers are already set to strike this Saturday at seven companies and on Wednesday Aslef members at two more train operators voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
The announcement was made as strikes by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and Transport Salaried Staffs Association crippled services on Wednesday, with only around one in five trains running and some areas having none at all.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “Strikes are always the last resort.
“We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies, who say they have been driven to this by the Government.
“Many of our members, who were the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic, have not had a pay rise since 2019.
“With inflation running at north of 10 per cent that means those drivers have had a real-terms pay cut over the last three years.
“We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row. Especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and train drivers don’t want to work longer for less.
“Wage rises aren’t fueling inflation. Excess profiteering is, but the Government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.
“We don’t see why we should forego an increase in salary to keep pace with inflation and help the privatized train companies make even bigger profits to send abroad.”
Drivers at Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry voted by more than 9-1 to go on strike, it was announced on Wednesday.
They will strike on August 13 alongside drivers at Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.
A row broke out between unions and the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps after he laid out plans to curb industrial action, including stopping coordinated industrial action, limiting picketing and having a cooling off period after strikes.