Train drivers from eight UK railway companies vote for strike action

More disruption seems likely for Britain's beleaguered commuters

Britain faces further rail strikes after train drivers agreed to industrial action in a ballot. AP
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Commuters in the UK face further disruption this summer after train drivers from eight railway companies voted to go on strike in a row over pay.

Aslef members at Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, South-eastern and West Midlands Trains voted by about 9-1 in favour of strikes on turnouts of more than 80 per cent cent.

It is not known when the industrial action will take place. Strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) badly affected services last month.

The combined action could result in the biggest rail strikes in the country for a quarter of decade if they are not averted later this year.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said strike action was the “last resort” and that members were forced into the position by the rail companies and the government.

He claimed that workers had not received a pay rise since 2019, despite their crucial role in transporting frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Train drivers have had a real terms pay cut due to soaring inflation and Britain's cost-of-living crisis, he said.

“With inflation … that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years”, Mr Whelan said.

“We want an increase in line with the cost of living — we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

“It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row.

“Especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways, with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers.”

A Department for Transport statement described the move as “disappointing” and said that Aslef was causing further misery for rail passengers.

“The train drivers they represent earn, on average, just under £60,000 ($72,151) per year — more than twice the UK median salary and significantly more than the very workers who will be most impacted by these strikes”, it said.

“Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation to make it work better for passengers and be financially sustainable for the long term. We urge the union bosses to reconsider and work with its employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.”

Meanwhile, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association announced that hundreds of its members at Southeastern have voted for strikes and other forms of industrial action over pay, job security and conditions.

The union is not naming dates for any industrial action today, but will now consider the next steps with workplace reps.

Updated: July 11, 2022, 4:32 PM