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Updated: Fresh train strike action planned in October

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Train drivers and railway workers will stage strike action in October, likely to impact the London Marathon, in a continuing dispute over pay, unions have confirmed.

Update (22 September 2022): In addition to strike action planned for 1 and 5 October, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has now announced there will be a further nationwide strike on Saturday 8 October.

Over 40,000 RMT members from Network Rail and 15 train operating companies will take strike action, effectively shutting down the railway network.

Members of ASLEF – the train drivers’ trade union – will walk out at 12 train operating companies on Saturday 1 and Wednesday 5 October in a dispute over pay.

ASLEF said it had successfully negotiated pay deals with nine train companies this year, but are only in dispute with these companies “which have failed to offer their drivers anything” and no increase since 2019:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • Greater Anglia
  • Great Western Railway
  • Hull Trains
  • LNER
  • London Overground
  • Northern Trains
  • Southeastern
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Trains

It comes after ASLEF members were to hold a strike on Thursday 15 September but postponed “as a mark of respect” following the death of the Queen.

And it said this latest announcement comes after the State Funeral but due to laws, it is required to give companies 14 days’ notice, so the train firms were notified on Friday.

‘Deserve to be treated better than this’

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: “We would much rather not be in this position. We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing your labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for this trade union – but the train companies have been determined to force our hand.

“They are telling train drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now running at 12.3% – and set, it is said, to go higher – these companies are saying that drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, for just as long, but for considerably less.

“Train drivers kept Britain moving – key workers and goods around the country – throughout the pandemic and we deserve to be treated better than this. That’s why we are calling on the companies – which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses – to make a pay offer to our members to keep up with the rise in the cost of living.”

Meanwhile, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has also confirmed strike action by railways workers on Network Rail and 14 train operating companies on Saturday 1 October.

The 24-hour walk out relates to a row over job security, pay and working conditions and will affect the following:

  • Network Rail
  • Chiltern Railways
  • Cross Country Trains
  • Greater Anglia,
  • LNER,
  • East Midlands Railway,
  • c2c,
  • Great Western Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • Southeastern
  • Southwestern Railway
  • Transpennine Express
  • Avanti West Coast
  • West Midlands Trains
  • GTR (including Gatwick Express).

‘Summer of solidarity’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Transport workers are joining a wave of strike action on 1 October, sending a clear message to the government and employers that working people will not accept continued attacks on pay and working conditions at a time when big business profits are at an all-time high.

“The summer of solidarity we have seen will continue into the autumn and winter if employers and the government continue to refuse workers reasonable demands.

“We want a settlement to these disputes where our members and their families can get a square deal.  And we will not rest until we get a satisfactory outcome.”

There are also separate strikes on 1 October involving First Bus South West (Somerset), First Bus South West (Kernow Cornwall), Arriva Rail London, Carlisle Support Services (Revenue Security Officers on the Arriva Rail London contract and Hull Trains.

 ‘We simply cannot deliver pay increases’

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “These strikes will once again hugely inconvenience the very passengers the industry needs to support its recovery from the ongoing impact of the pandemic. They range from those left out of pocket because they can’t get to work, to people missing vital appointments and to thousands of London marathon participants, who, after months of training, will have their journeys to London disrupted at the weekend.

“The strikes are not in the long-term interests of rail workers or building a sustainable rail industry. We want to give our people a pay rise, but without the reforms we are proposing, we simply cannot deliver pay increases.  Revenue is still around 80% of pre-pandemic levels, no business can survive that scale of upheaval without implementing change.

“The actions of union leaders have very real consequences: every strike day takes more money out of their members’ pockets.  We want to see the industry and its people thrive – we are asking the unions’ leadership to do the right thing, call off these damaging strikes and work with us to make that happen.”