Train drivers strike for pay outside Charing Cross station in London on 6 January (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Under pressure from its members, the train drivers’ union Aslef has called more strikes. But there is no sign of the escalation that union leaders hinted at.

The union has scheduled a one-day strike on Friday 1 September and an overtime ban across the whole rail network on Saturday 2 September—when RMT union members are set to strike. The rail bosses, backed by limitless government bailouts, are refusing to budge over pay and conditions.

Aslef says the strike will force companies to cancel all services. And the ban on overtime will seriously disrupt the network as none of the privatised train operating companies employs enough drivers to provide a proper service without drivers working on their days off.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said, “Train drivers at these companies have not had a pay rise for four years while inflation has rocketed. We haven’t heard a word from the employers. We haven’t had a meeting, a phone call, a text message, or an email—since Wednesday 26 April. And we haven’t had any contact with the government since Friday 6 January. 

“This shows the contempt in which the companies, and the government, hold passengers and staff and public transport in Britain.”

Earlier on Friday the Financial Times newspaper said that Aslef “had come under pressure from members to intensify the union’s campaign of industrial action”.

It quoted Whelan as saying, “The longer it goes on without any contact from the government or any of the employers to resolve the situation, we may have to go harder and faster to make our voice heard.” 

He added that the union could consider a permanent ban on overtime. But unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

Aslef has so far called 11 one-day strikes during the 15-month dispute. That’s not enough to win.

Meanwhile, the rail unions are also campaigning against plans to close most railway ticket offices. More than 300,000 people have responded to a consultation on the matter, which ends on 1 September.

The RMT union, which has previously announced strikes on 26 August and 2 September, has called a demonstration over the ticket office closures on Thursday 31 August. It assembles at 5pm at the Department for Transport, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR. It marches at 5.30pm for a rally at 6pm opposite 10 Downing Street.

The 16 companies affected by the Aslef strike are: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Great Western Railway, Island Line, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

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