ASLEF Adopts New Tactic for Forthcoming Strikes

Rolling industrial action will affect companies on different days

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November 29, 2023

The latest industrial action from the train drivers’ union ASLEF will see them adopt a change of tactics. Unlike on previous occasions when strikes took place on train operating companies (TOC) across the country on the same day, this time the strike will be spread over a number of days with different providers hit on each day. In addition, there will be an overtime ban running from 1 – 9 December which is likely to impact local lines with some short-notice alterations or cancellations expected.

The first local service to be affected will be South Western Railway (SWR) where drivers are walking out on Wednesday 6 December. A very limited service will be provided with no trains at all on the Hounslow Loop which meant that stations such as Chiswick, Brentford, Kew Bridge and Isleworth will be closed. SWR says it will announce the strike day timetable this week. There will be an extremely limited service, with trains only running between London Waterloo and Basingstoke, Feltham, Woking, Guildford and between Basingstoke and Salisbury. Two trains per hour on the Feltham service will call at Putney and Wandsworth Town. Trains will only operate on these routes between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

Drivers on Southern are also on strike on Wednesday and the company will only run a limited shuttle service calling at Gatwick Airport and London Victoria only. The Gatwick Express will also be out of action.

The following day (Thursday 7 December) it will be Great Western Railway’s (GWR) turn. The company says that many parts of its network will have no service at all and trains that are running will only be operating for a limited period during the day. Where it can run services, they are expected to be extremely busy, and the company is not able to provide replacement bus services.

The days after strikes, services could also be affected by a limited number of short-notice cancellations and alterations.

The national schedule of strikes is as follows:

Which train company will be affected on what day?
Saturday 2 December at East Midlands Railway and LNER
Sunday 3 December at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and West Midlands Trains
Tuesday 5 December at C2C and Greater Anglia
Wednesday 6 December at Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, SWR main line, SWR depot drivers, and Island Line
Thursday 7 December at CrossCountry and GWR
Friday 8 December at Northern and TPT

For the latest information, passengers should check National Rail or individual operators' websites.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the median pay for train drivers is just below £59,000 but ASLEF says that its members have gone without a pay rise for several years with the train operating companies having seen significantly reduced revenues during and since the pandemic. The union rejected a two-year offer of a backdated pay rise of 4% for 2022 and a 4% increase this year.

The union’s General Secretary Mick Whelan said that strike action is necessary because the companies "refuse to sit down and talk to us and have not made a fair and sensible pay offer".

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group which represents the TOCs said, “This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the ASLEF leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period, while further damaging the railway at a time when it is still getting an extra £175m a month in taxpayer cash.

“The fair and affordable offer made by industry, which would take average driver base salaries for a 4-day week from £60,000 to nearly £65,000, remains on the table. We urge the ASLEF leadership to put it to its members, give Christmas back to our passengers, and end this damaging industrial dispute."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said, "The government has met the rail unions, listened to them and facilitated improved offers on pay and reform."

RMT members working for London Underground are voting this week on a new deal offered by management which the union says came after ‘significant progress in talks. RMT members including signal workers and maintenance staff working for Network Rail accepted a pay deal back in March.

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