Train drivers are walking again today after their second 24-hour strike by the Asalaf union this week. Drivers will strike as part of a long-running pay dispute over pay and conditions at 14 train operating companies, causing disruption for passengers around Britain.
Most major operators said they could run no trains throughout the day, with trains starting later and ending much earlier than usual – usually between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Saturday morning services are also expected to be affected.
A spokeswoman for Rail Delivery Group said: “To minimize the impact of Aslef action, we advise passengers to check before they travel, to allow extra time and to find out when their first and last trains leave.”
It follows the recent rejection of a pay offer which would have taken drivers’ average pay from around £60,000 to around £65,000 a year, along with an 8% pay rise over two years.
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Simon Weller, Assistant Secretary-General of Assalef, said the dispute was going “backwards” after months of talks had not made progress.
“I don’t know whether to point the finger of blame at the incompetence of the transport department or the rail delivery group”.
When it was suggested to Mick Whelan, general editor of Assalef, that striking train drivers could lose the support and sympathy of people who earn significantly less because the strike creates chaos, he argued that train drivers were victims of “demonisation”.
she said ITVIts “Good Morning Britain programme”: “I am concerned first and foremost about the people I represent and the idea of the politics of violence and the demonization of train drivers and other skilled workers has been going on for over a year now.
“It’s not about what we earn, it’s about what other people don’t earn. I want every nurse in the country, everyone in the fire brigade, everyone in the public sector, every teacher to have what we have”.
With talks with train operators over pay and conditions set to resume on Tuesday, Mr Whelan said he was “optimistic” about progress.
He said: “We’re back in talks on Tuesday and we’re always optimistic. Unfortunately, some actions by employers and the government in recent weeks have delayed negotiations.
“But we go back there with open eyes, hoping for a solution. We don’t want to be here, my people don’t want to be on the picket line, they don’t want people to lose money, they want to do their day job.
“But at some point… someone compromised us.”
Currently, there are no further strikes planned by any rail union after this Friday, although Asseloff warned that more dates could be announced, saying this week that talks over the pay dispute had “backtracked”.
Today’s walkout is the second strike by train drivers this week, after they took part in a massive day of industrial action on Wednesday.
Other professions that have resigned include teachers, university employees, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards.
It has seen around 85% of the 23,000 state schools in England and Wales either fully or partially closed.