Train strikes to continue for six months as fresh of action voted for by union

Aslef union announced five of its members - Chiltern, c2c, East Midlands, Northern and TransPennine - voted to carry on strike action

Train drivers at five rail operators have voted to continue taking strike action for six months in the long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Aslef announced that its members on Chiltern, c2c, East Midlands, Northern and TransPennine railways had overwhelmingly backed carrying on with action.

Unions involved in disputes have to re-ballot their members every six months on continuing with industrial action.

These results show – yet again – a clear rejection by train drivers of the ridiculous offer put to us in April last year by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on behalf of the train operating companies with whom we are in dispute," Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef said.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…

“The RDG knew the offer would be rejected because we had told them that a land grab for all the terms and conditions we have negotiated over the years would be unacceptable.

“Since then our members have voted, time and again, for strikes. That’s why Mark Harper, the transport secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that offer should have been put to members.

“Drivers obviously wouldn’t vote for industrial action, again and again and again, if they thought that was a good offer. They don’t. That offer was dead in the water in April last year – and I think Mr Harper knows that.”

Mr Whelan said the union remained open and willing to talk about a revised offer and proposed a meeting with the government to open discussions.

He claims Mr Harper hasn't spoken to the union since December 2022, Rail Minister Huw Merriman since 2023 and the RDG since April 2023.

“Let’s sit around the table and negotiate. You don’t want any more strikes, and we do not want to be forced to take any more industrial action, although we have the renewed mandates to do just that," Mr Whelan added.

“We want to find a resolution to this dispute, for members who have not had a pay rise since our last deals ran out in 2019, and the only way to resolve this dispute is for the employers, and the government that stands behind them, to come and talk to us.”

A spokesperson for the RDG said it wants to give people a pay rise, but that it must be "fair and sustainable."

“Instead of staging more damaging industrial action which will continue to result in huge disruption for our customers and staff," they added.

"We call on the Aslef leadership to work with us to resolve this dispute and deliver a fair deal which makes the changes needed to make services more reliable and punctual and secure a bright, long-term future for our people.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...