Train strikes for October announced by drivers' union Aslef after Queen's death postponed September action
Train drivers at 12 train operating companies, including Southeastern, will go on strike twice next month in an ongoing row over pay.
Union ASLEF has confirmed that thousands of its members will walk out on Saturday, October 1 and Wednesday, October 5 while the RMT union says more than 30,000 of its members will down tools also on Saturday, October 1 and again on Saturday, October 8.
Industrial action the union had voted to conduct on September 15 was hastily called-off after the death of the Queen was announced - with fellow union the RMT also cancelling two strikes it had planned to hold for more than 30,000 of its members this month.
But with the national period of mourning now over, and no sign of a deal with rail bosses in the pipeline, it is expected that thousands of railway workers and train staff could resume their separate campaigns of industrial action in an attempt to secure better pay for workers, which they say is being hit hard by the escalating cost of living.
The strikes by ASLEF, the train drivers union, will include drivers working at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
With 96% of train drivers reportedly represented by the union, previous strikes by the group have caused train services to grind to a complete halt with so few drivers available to keep the network running.
Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary, said: ‘We would much rather not be in this position. We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing your labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for this trade union – but the train companies have been determined to force our hand.
"They are telling train drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now running at 12.3% – and set, it is said, to go higher – these companies are saying that drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, for just as long, but for considerably less.
"The companies with whom we are in dispute have not offered us a penny. It is outrageous that they expect us to put up with a real terms pay cut for a third year in a row. And that’s why we are going on strike."
There has been no announcement yet by the RMT, the union which covers the transport sector, as to whether it also intends to re-instate strikes in October to replace those it also abandoned this month as a mark of respect.
Eleven trade unions are also currently seeking a judicial review of government plans to allow companies to hire agency staff to replace striking workers.