UK train drivers organize first mass walkout since 27 years

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UK train drivers will strike for their pay this month. It will be the first time they have taken coordinated industrial action in 27-years. Meanwhile, other rail workers have announced that they will walk out for two more days in August.

The train drivers’ union Aslef said the one-day strike on July 30 was the result of rail companies failing to make a pay offer in line with the rising Cost of living.

The Take action This will be the first time drivers have taken collective action since 1995, and the latest disruption to the rail network. A strike last month by RMT union workers focused on staff at Network Rail, the provider of Britain’s railway infrastructure, and more than a dozen train operators.

It brought down the network and industry executives worry that drivers may walk out. There are few options available to replace striking drivers other than a very small group of trained drivers’ managers.

Also, a walkout was held on July 27, which led to the RMT Announced on Wednesday after rejecting a “paltry” pay offer and vowing to continue striking “for as long as it takes”, Aslef’s action will coincide with the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on July 28, threatening to hit attendance.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said Aslef was “cynically orchestrating” strike dates to coincide with the games, with union bosses “determined to cause as much misery as possible”. He added that train drivers on average earn just under £60,000 a year, more than twice the national average.

The RMT on Thursday evening announced two further days of strikes by its members for next month — for August 18 and 20 — across 14 train operating companies.

Aslef members at eight companies — Arriva Rail London, Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains — will take part in the walkout.

Drivers at individual train operators have gone on strike recently but Aslef’s is a co-ordinated move that could cause disruption across the country.

“We don’t want to inconvenience passengers, not least because our friends and families use public transport,” said Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan. “We believe in building trust in the railways in Britain — and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike.

“But we’ve been forced into this position by the train companies, driven by the Tory government. The drivers at the companies where we are striking have had a real-terms pay cut over the past three years,” he added.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said after announcing his union’s two fresh strike dates that the rail industry and government needed to understand that the dispute over pay, job security and working conditions would not simply vanish. “Now Grant Shapps has abandoned his forlorn hopes for the job of prime minister, he can get back to his day job and help sort this mess out,” he said.

Other unions are also preparing for further walkouts. TSSA, which represents supervisors and managers, voted in 10 train operators as well as Network Rail. It is expected that it will announce strike dates within days.

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