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Train drivers vote to extend strike action

mick whelan
Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan says his members ‘are in this for the long haul’ - James Manning/PA

Train drivers represented by the Aslef union have voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action for the next six months in their ongoing dispute over pay.

Mick Whelan, the Aslef General Secretary, warned rail operators that his members “are in this for the long haul” as the latest round of industrial action got under way on Friday.

The vote is the latest blow to travellers who have been hit with 18 months of disruption since unions began their pay dispute with the Government and train operating companies.

Aslef members began a nine-day ban on working overtime on Friday which will run alongside a series of strikes across the country, beginning on Saturday.

Unlike previous strikes, different operators will walk out on different days across the country during the wave of action.

Mr Whelan said: “Our members – who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now – are determined that the train companies – and the Tory government that stands behind them – do the right thing.

“The cost of living has soared since the spring and summer of 2019, when these pay deals ran out. The bosses at the train companies – as well as Tory MPs and government ministers – have had increases in pay.

“It’s unrealistic – and unfair – to expect our members to work just as hard for what, in real terms, is considerably less.”

The vote for further strike actions comes a day after members of the RMT union voted to accept a pay offer in a separate dispute, bringing an end to the threat of walkouts until at least the spring.

Aslef members at 12 train operators in England were re-balloted about continuing strike action, each returning huge votes in favour on high turnouts.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: “Following RMT members voting to overwhelmingly accept the train operators’ pay offer, Aslef is now not just the only rail union still striking but the only union not to even put an offer to its members.

“They are instead choosing to cause more misery for passengers and the hospitality sector this festive period.

“The fair and reasonable offer that’s long been on the table would bring the average train driver’s salary up to £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.

“Aslef’s leadership should follow in the footsteps of all the other rail unions by doing the right thing and giving their members a say on that offer.”

A spokesman for Rail Delivery Group, which represents the operators that employ the train drivers, said the vote was “disappointing”.

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