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Aslef Train Drivers Plan April Strikes In Ongoing Pay Dispute

Platform and train at London Bridge railway station, London, UK

Aslef train drivers are preparing for another series of strikes next month amid an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. 

Scheduled between Friday, April 5, and Monday, April 8, drivers from 16 rail companies plan to participate in one-day walkouts and a six-day ban on overtime work. 

The aim is to increase pressure on the rail operators for a pay rise.

The latest round of strikes mark a continuation of a conflict that began in July 2022 with little resolution. 

During this period, 14 one-day strikes have disrupted the rail network.

The union rejected a pay offer nearly a year ago, in April 2023.

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They offer two consecutive annual four percent pay rises on condition drivers accept industry-wide training and changes to work schedules at individual operators. 

Since then, negotiations have been at a standstill.

London Underground drivers and Aslef members are poised to strike in April and May, promising further disruptions. 

The union has detailed the specific dates and rail companies affected by the April walkouts, along with plans for an overtime work refusal surrounding the strike dates.

Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary, criticised the rail companies and government for their lack of engagement in constructive negotiations.

Whelan said: "Our members voted overwhelmingly - yet again - for strike action. Those votes show a clear rejection by train drivers of the ridiculous offer put to us in April last year.

"We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it is now clear they do not want to resolve this dispute. They are happy for it to go on and on."

Train operators insist on the necessity of adapting work practices for feasible wage increases, pointing to the financial strains on the industry. 

Aslef said these demands compromise drivers' working conditions. 

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The Rail Delivery Group, representing the train companies, expressed a desire to settle the dispute but emphasized the financial burden on taxpayers.

It said Aslef's leadership "need to recognise that hard-pressed taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week just to keep services running post-Covid.

"Nobody wins when industrial action impacts people's lives and livelihoods, and we will work hard to minimise any disruption to our passengers."

The Department for Transport said Aslef remains the only rail union still engaging in strikes, with other disputes, notably with the RMT union, having been resolved. 

The department claims an offer is on the table that could increase train drivers' average salaries from £60,000 to £65,000.

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