December rail strikes continue TODAY with week of chaos

December rail strikes continue TODAY with week of chaos

December 3, 2023

December rail strikes continue TODAY with week of chaos as the party season kicks off – after Aslev workers voted to stage another six months of crippling walkouts in pay row

  • Overtime will also be banned until next weekend leading to further disruption
  • No Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run on Sunday 

December rail strikes will continue today with a week of chaos after Aslef members voted to stage another six months of walk outs in a long-running dispute over pay. 

Overtime will also be banned until next weekend which will lead to further disruption and cancellations.

Drivers on East Midlands Trains and LNER went on strike on Saturday, crippling services on a busy pre-Christmas shopping day.

Aslef members on Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, West Midlands Trains and Great Northern/Thameslink will strike on Sunday, with an expected knock-on impact on services on Monday morning.

No Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run on Sunday and they will restart between 7am and 9am on Monday.

December rail strikes will continue today with a week of chaos after Aslef members voted to stage another six months of walk outs in a long-running dispute over pay 

Jenny Saunders, customer services director, said: ‘We’re really sorry for the disruption customers will experience as we make significant timetable changes during this period of sustained national industrial action.

‘I strongly urge customers to check every journey, every day, so they aren’t caught out.

‘No two consecutive days will be the same, so please plan all your journeys carefully, including any connections with other operators, in advance at, and once again before you set off.

Full list of train strikes in December 2023

Saturday, December 2

  • East Midlands Railway
  • LNER

Sunday, December 3

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Chiltern Railways
  • Great Northern
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Thameslink
  • West Midlands Railway

Monday, December 4

  • No strikes 

Tuesday, December 5

  • c2c
  • Greater Anglia
  • Stansted Express

Wednesday, December 6

  • Gatwick Express
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • Southern

Thursday, December 7

  • CrossCountry
  • Great Western Railway
  • Heathrow Express

Friday, December 8

  • Northern
  • TransPennine Express

‘Industrial action is terrible for everyone and we hope for a national resolution as soon as possible.’

Avanti West Coast urged passengers not to attempt to travel on Sunday as none of its services will run.

The company said: ‘Avanti West Coast services on the days either side of the strike will also be affected, along with industrial action impacting other train companies throughout the week, so we recommend you check your entire journey before you travel.’

Passengers were told they can claim a full, fee-free refund from their point of purchase.

No Chiltern Railways or West Midlands Railway services will operate on Sunday because of the industrial action.

Aslef members last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuing taking strike action for the next six months, which the union said was proof they were still solidly behind the campaign for an increase to a pay offer worth 8% over two years.

The Rail Delivery Group and the Government have urged the union to put the offer to a ballot, saying it would increase annual pay from almost £60,000 to almost £65,000.

The dispute remains deadlocked after 18 months, with no sign of a breakthrough.

It is likely that services on some lines will be affected on the evening before and morning after each strike between December 2 and 8 because much of the rolling stock will not be in the right depots. 

Unions involved in disputes have to reballot their members every six months to ask if they want to continue taking industrial action.

Aslef (the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) members at 12 train operators in England were reballoted, each returning huge votes in favour on high turnouts.

Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said the union was ‘in this for the long haul’, adding: ‘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.

‘Train drivers are fed up and frustrated that their employers failed to negotiate in good faith, making a proposal through the Rail Delivery Group which they knew – because we had told them – would be turned down and then to blame drivers for the train companies’ inability to manage services and the rail industry effectively.

Overtime will also be banned until next weekend which will lead to further disruption and cancellations

‘Aslef members, key workers who kept our country moving through the pandemic, are simply asking for a fair and decent deal.

‘We haven’t had a meeting with Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, since December 2022. We haven’t had a meeting with Huw Merriman, the rail minister, since January, and we haven’t heard from the employers, the private sector train operating companies for whom we work, since April.

‘We have always said that we are prepared to come to the table but the Government and train companies need to understand that this dispute won’t be resolved by trying to bully our members into accepting worse terms and conditions of employment.

‘Looking at the resolve of our members as shown by all the branch meetings I have attended and these new ballot results – and the solidarity they have shown on the picket line since the first ballots went out in June 2022 – we are calling on the Government to let the companies come back to the table and make our members a sensible offer, with no strings attached, to reflect the increase in the cost of living.’

Mr Whelan said that Aslef members remained solidly behind the campaign of industrial action after not having had a pay rise for almost five years. 

Aslef said the rolling programme of one-day strikes and overtime ban was designed to ‘ratchet up the pressure’ on the train operators (TOCs) and the Government.

‘We are determined to win this dispute and get a significant pay rise for train drivers who have not had an increase since 2019 while the cost of living, in that time, has soared.

‘Our strikes have forced TOCs to cancel services and the ban on overtime has seriously disrupted the network as none of the train companies employs enough drivers to provide a proper service – the service they have promised passengers and businesses they will deliver – without asking drivers to work their rest days.’

READ MORE Hundreds of Eurostar passengers including children are left without ‘food, water and loo roll’ for ‘up to five hours’ after train was stranded on tracks when cable snapped and fell onto it – sparking mass cancellations

Aslef members will strike at East Midlands Railway and LNER on Saturday December 2; at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and West Midlands Trains on Sunday December 3; at C2C and Greater Anglia on Tuesday December 5; at Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway and Island Line on Wednesday December 6; at CrossCountry and Great Western Railway on Thursday December 7 and at Northern and TransPennine on Friday December 8.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘This unnecessary and avoidable industrial action called by the Aslef leadership has been targeted to disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period, where people will be attending events and catching up with friends and loved ones.

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

‘The Aslef leadership are blocking a fair and affordable offer made by industry in the spring which would take average driver base salaries for a four-day week from £60,000 to nearly £65,000. We urge them to put it to its members, give Christmas back to our customers, and end this damaging industrial dispute.’

It comes despite members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union voting this week to accept a deal to end their long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls has warned that the latest Aslef strikes could cost the industry up to £800million – and the industrial action has already cost hospitality businesses more than £3billion.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘Strikes called by the Aslef leadership continue to result in huge disruption for our customers, staff and the hospitality industry.

‘It is disappointing that after the rolling strikes and overtime ban which start today there could be more strikes in 2024.

‘Our priority is finding a fair and affordable way through this dispute, so we can end the disruption to our passengers, give our people a pay rise and return the industry to a sustainable footing at a time when taxpayers are contributing an extra £54 million a week to keep services running post covid.

‘We have always been clear that we remain open to constructive dialogue with Aslef to find a resolution, and that is still the case.’

Source: Read Full Article