UK prepare drivers will stage two extra days of extremely disruptive strikes subsequent month after their union rejected a pay supply from the rail trade.
The walkouts on February 1 and three will deliver the railways to a digital standstill and deepen a bitter dispute that has brought on wave of industrial motion over the previous six months.
Drivers’ union Aslef on Tuesday mentioned the 8 per cent, two-year pay supply from trade physique the Rail Supply Group, which was tied to large modifications to working practices, was “clearly unacceptable”.
“They wish to rip up our phrases and circumstances in return for a real-terms pay minimize,” mentioned Mick Whelan, the union’s basic secretary.
Aslef rejected the supply regardless of indicators of progress in separate negotiations between prepare firms and two different unions.
The RMT and TSSA unions final week agreed to “work collectively” with the RDG in the direction of a pay supply to place to members.
Prepare firms have supplied these unions a 9 per cent rise over two years, in keeping with a separate supply from Community Rail, which owns the UK’s rail infrastructure, in response to individuals briefed on the talks.
Trade executives are optimistic these discussions may resolve that a part of the tangle of disputes on the railways, at the same time as relations with Aslef worsen.
Whelan mentioned Aslef was open to restarting negotiations, however he referred to as for firms and the federal government, which units the trade’s funds, to “get severe”.
The RDG’s supply of a 4 per cent pay rise for 2023, and a backdated 4 per cent rise for the earlier yr, got here with a assure of no obligatory redundancies till the top of March 2024.
But it surely was additionally tied to the demand for drivers to just accept vital modifications to their working lives, notably a contractual dedication to work Sunday shifts.
The trade mentioned its proposal would imply the bottom wage for the common driver would enhance to virtually £65,000 by the top of this yr.
Whelan countered that the prepare operators’ supply was an try and win “lots of of hundreds of thousands of kilos” in productiveness for a substandard pay supply.
“Irreparable hurt has been carried out to the integrity of the negotiating course of and the longer term capacity to barter an acceptable manner ahead, however we make ourselves accessible anyway,” he mentioned.
Aslef has already referred to as six one-day walkouts for the reason that begin of the dispute in the summertime, and the motion in February will have an effect on 15 prepare working firms.
Usually solely about 10 per cent of companies have been capable of function on strike days, as there are only a few different skilled drivers who can step in to run trains.
The Rail Supply Group mentioned it was disillusioned that its “truthful and inexpensive supply . . . wasn’t put to the Aslef members”.
“Quite than asserting additional pointless strikes, we ask Aslef to recognise the very actual monetary problem the trade is going through and work with us to ship a greater railway,” it added.