Rail union barons are blasted as 'dozens' of train drivers earn £100K

Rail union barons are blasted as 'dozens' of train drivers earn £100K

May 12, 2023

Rail union barons are blasted over crippling strikes as it emerges ‘dozens’ of train drivers earn £100,000 or more

  • Downing Street led a chorus of outrage at the industrial action taking place

Rail union barons were today condemned for pressing ahead with crippling strikes as it emerged that ‘dozens’ of train drivers earn £100,000 or more.

Downing Street led a chorus of outrage at the industrial action taking place today and tomorrow, which will hit Ukrainian refugees with tickets to tomorrow’s Eurovision Song Contest final.

It also emerged that the militant RMT union is losing hundreds of members amid complaints that they cannot afford to carry on striking during a cost of living crisis.

The rail network in England ground to a halt earlier today as thousands of train drivers, represented by the Aslef union, went on strike.

Tomorrow around 20,000 RMT members will walk out, hitting Eurovision concert-goers.

Empty platforms at London Paddington railway station this morning on a day of strike action

The event is being hosted in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion and ministers have arranged for displaced Ukrainians to receive subsidised tickets.

Industry sources revealed that when overtime working, allowances and pension contributions are included many train drivers rake in total earnings of six figures.

A senior rail source told the Mail: ‘It’s the overtime which really helps the drivers go from an average of about £60,000 to well over £100,000.

‘There are definitely dozens of them on £100,000 or more, that’s what makes this walkout even more outrageous.’

Earlier today, rail minister Huw Merriman accused Aslef bosses of being ‘unreasonable’ for snubbing an 8 per cent pay rise offer which would take the typical drivers’ salary from £60,000 to £65,000 for a four-day week.

Rail minister Huw Merriman accused Aslef bosses of being ‘unreasonable’

Along with the RMT, it has refused to put the offer to its members in a vote.

Mr Merriman pointed out that drivers’ pay has already rocketed nearly 40 per cent since 2011.

He told the BBC: ‘We’re calling for these two union leaders to let their members decide if these offers are fair and reasonable.

‘It’s a well-paid job and would be even more well paid if they accept this.

‘I’m just really disappointed that for really difficult appointments – hospitals, people going to school – they won’t be able to get there.

‘The unions have picked not just Eurovision but the FA Cup Final [for strike action].

‘So they either don’t have a particularly good sporting or events calendar, or it has been done deliberately to try and ratchet up the disruption.’

A No 10 spokesman added: ‘We remain disappointed that the strikes we’re going to see over the next couple of days and over the next few weeks are still happening.

‘We know it will impact people’s ability to travel to Eurovision tomorrow night, we know it’ll have an impact on both Manchester [football] clubs and their fans trying to come down to London for the FA Cup Final at the start of June.

‘We continue to think this is a fair offer, we continue to call on the unions to put it to their members and we continue to call on them to call off the strikes.’

Aslef will also strike on May 31 and June 3 – when Manchester United and Manchester City go head to head at Wembley Stadium in the FA Cup Final.

Today, the union’s boss Mick Whelan claimed it was ‘coincidental’ that his union was striking on the same days as major events.

He claimed Aslef has been acting in ‘good faith’ and that it was only taking industrial action because rail bosses have been ‘smashing every agreement we’ve got on a daily basis’.

He insisted that ‘the blame for this action lies, fairly and squarely, at the feet of the employers who have forced our hand over this by their intransigence’.

Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting, the party’s health spokesman, said he was among those affected.

He told Times Radio: ‘I was going to be at Eurovision this weekend. Now I’m not so you know, poor me… railway disruption causes misery for passengers… I’m not alone in being affected, not just this weekend.’

He added: ‘I think beyond the industrial action, there is also the need for wider reform of the way that we own and operate our railways in the interests of the travelling public and the British taxpayer.’

Industry figures obtained by the Daily Mail show that RMT membership has fallen by 3.5 per cent across 14 train operators since November.

It dropped from 21,636 to 20,890 this month, a fall of nearly 750. Greater Anglia saw the biggest fall (8.8 per cent).

RMT members have been openly complaining on social media that the union continues to call walkouts because they lose a day’s pay for every strike.

The RMT has snubbed a pay offer of 9 per cent over two years from 14 operators covering most of the country. The Aslef offer relates to 15 operators.

Aslef has staged nine national walkouts since June last year and RMT 19, when tomorrow’s strike action is included.

There was hope that rail strikes could soon be over after a long-running dispute between the RMT and Network Rail was resolved in March, when workers accepted a 9 per cent offer.

But the separate disputes involving the train firms has remained outstanding.

The hospitality sector has been one of the biggest victims of industrial action, alone taking a hit of more than £3billion in lost sales since last summer due to rail strikes.

The RMT and Aslef were contacted for comment.

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