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Train drivers in England announce more strikes as pay row continues

East Midlands Railway Class 222 Train at Nottingham Station

Train drivers in England will start another week of rolling strikes due to an ongoing wage dispute with rail operators. 

Starting in late January, the walkouts extend from Tuesday, January 30, to Monday, February 5.

The members of the Aslef union plan to conduct 24-hour strikes at each national railway train-operating company on different days.

It’s followed by a refusal to work overtime throughout the week. 

This renewed action follows a similar week of strikes in December and 14 days of nationwide stoppages over the past 18 months.

The Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, said: “We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport [DfT].

"It’s clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

“Many of our members have now not had a single penny increase to their pay in half a decade, during which inflation soared and with it the cost of living. 

“Train drivers didn’t even ask for an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic when they worked throughout as key workers, risking their lives to allow NHS and other workers to travel.”

The government's new minimum service levels law permits companies to request 40 percent of their timetable run during strikes.

But it remains uncertain whether operators will exercise this option. 

“The government has now tried their old trick of changing the rules when they can’t win"

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Whelan said: “The government has now tried their old trick of changing the rules when they can’t win and brought in minimum service levels legislation. 

“But this new law, as we told officials during the consultation period, won’t ease industrial strife. It will likely just make it worse.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: “Nobody wins when strikes impact lives and livelihoods, and they’re particularly difficult to justify at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week to keep services running post-Covid.

“Despite the railway’s huge financial challenge, drivers have been made an offer which would take base salaries to nearly £65,000 for a four-day week without overtime – that is well above the national average and significantly more than many of our passengers that have no option to work from home are paid.””

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said it was “very disappointing.” 

They said Aslef was the only rail union “continuing to strike while refusing to put a fair and reasonable offer to its members”.

Operators hit by the upcoming strikes

Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Thameslink, South Western Railway, Northern Trains, TransPennine Express, Greater Anglia, C2C, LNER, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Great Western, CrossCountry, and Chiltern. 

Additionally, drivers intend to refuse overtime from January 29 to February 6.

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