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Rail strikes: Passengers warned of disruption this weekend as ASLEF walkouts begin | UK News

ASLEF’s train drivers are staging a series of strikes this weekend, marking the start of major disruption over the next week.

Union members at East Midlands Railway and LNER will walk out on Saturday, followed by drivers on four other lines on Sunday.

A total of 15 train operating companies will be affected by strike action between today and Friday 8 December after ASLEF members voted to continue taking industrial action for the next six months.

The strike days are amplified by a union-wide overtime ban which started on Friday and will run until Saturday 9 December.

Full list of dates in December 2023 and rail lines affected

East Midlands Railway said it will not operate services on any of its routes on Saturday, while the overtime ban may cause some late notice cancellations and changes to train times.

Passengers are advised to check before travelling.

LNER is running a reduced timetable between Edinburgh and London and Leeds and London on Saturday.

There will also be no trains to or from London King’s Cross on Sunday due to planned engineering work.

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ASLEF boss: We have no choice

An LNER statement said bus replacements would be in place on Sunday but warned they would have “extremely limited availability and will take considerably longer [approximately 120 minutes].”

Strikes on Sunday will affect Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink and West Midlands Trains, while more strikes against other operators will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week.

They come days after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union voted overwhelmingly to accept a deal to end their long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies, has criticised ASLEF for not following RMT’s approach and putting the latest pay offer to its members, which it says would take average driver salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000.

File photo dated 03/06/2023 of members of the Aslef union on a picket line near to Leeds train station. Rail passengers are being warned to expect disruption over the next week because of strikes and an overtime ban by train drivers in their long-running dispute over pay. Members of Aslef at 16 train operating companies will refuse to work overtime from Friday until December 9 and will stage a series of strikes between December 2 and 8. Issue date: Friday December 1, 2023.
An ASLEF picket line in Leeds

ASLEF’s general secretary Mick Whelan said he has not had any talks with employers since April and has not met Transport Secretary Mark Harper since last December.

“We are in this for the long haul,” he 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.

“These are key workers who kept the country moving throughout the pandemic. They are simply asking for a fair and decent deal.”

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An RDG spokesperson said: “This unnecessary and avoidable industry action called by the ASLEF leadership has been targeted to disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period.

“It will also inflict further damage on an industry that is receiving up to an additional £175m a month in taxpayer cash to keep services running, following the COVID downturn.”

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,” Mr Merriman added.

“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.”

Passengers who still intend to travel on days affected by strikes and overtime bans have been encouraged to check the National Rail’s journey planner before setting off.

Pay offer made to Aslef train drivers as rail strike disruption continues on Saturday | UK News

Train operating companies have offered the drivers’ union a two-year deal in a bid to resolve the bitter pay dispute  – as strikes across the rail network continue on Saturday.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said it was offering a “landmark outline proposal” in exchange for a pay increase of 4% for 2022 and 4% for this year.

It also includes a commitment to no compulsory redundancies until at least 31 March 2024.

Steve Montgomery, chairman of the RDG, said: “This is a fair and affordable offer in challenging times, providing a significant uplift in salary for train drivers while bringing in common-sense and long-overdue reforms that would drive up reliability for passengers and allow the railway to adapt to changed travel patterns.”

Drivers’ union Aslef said it had not seen the offer.

It comes as RMT union members at Network Rail and 14 train companies are continuing with a 48-hour strike which is set to cripple services across the country again on Saturday.

Only around one in five trains will run, with services starting later and finishing earlier.

The RMT has rejected a pay offer from train companies of 4% last year and 4% this year, saying a “host of unacceptable changes” were included such as the widespread expansion of driver-only operation on train services.

It argued that while rail workers have had their pay frozen between March 2020 and September 2022, official data showed that the private train operators made £310m in taxpayer-funded profits during the same period.

File photo dated 05/01/23 of Southeastern train drivers outside Ramsgate station in Kent during a strike by drivers from the Aslef union, in a long-running dispute over jobs and pensions. Train operating companies have offered the drivers' union a two-year pay deal in a bid to resolve the bitter dispute which has led to a series of strikes. The Rail Delivery Group said it was offering a "landmark outline proposal" that would deliver more reliable services for passengers, in exchange for a pay in
Southeastern train drivers outside Ramsgate station in Kent during a strike by drivers from the Aslef union

By September this year, that figure will be in excess of £400m, all of which can be turned into shareholder dividends, said the union.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “While the secretary of state and the Rail Delivery Group spin about the need for reform to fund pay rises, the truth is that the money was always there but it’s being salted away by a gang of profiteers and their mates in the government.

“It’s outrageous that the interests of workers, passengers and the taxpaying public are all sacrificed to the greed of a handful of private transport companies who are being guaranteed profits when they can’t run a railway even when we’re not on strike.”

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The latest strikes are part of a long-running pay dispute between rail staff and the train operating companies, that has caused widespread disruption to services across the UK.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Passengers have rightly had enough of rail strikes and want the disruption to end.

“Unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”