More rail strikes to hit trade again in January

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

On track for chaos: Aslef has announced new rail strike action (credit: Getty/Sally Anscombe)
On track for chaos: Aslef has announced new rail strike action (credit: Getty/Sally Anscombe)

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Strike action agreed by members of rail unions Aslef and RMT will mean chaos for five days in row in early January shortly after the hospitality sector has suffered a “50% downturn” in trade.

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) said strikes last weekend (16-18 December) have already caused greater pain to the sector than was originally anticipated.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Feedback from members across the UK has suggested that strike action has had a deeper impact than expected with businesses seeing over 50% downturn in trade on the busiest weekend of the year.

“With an estimated £2bn in lost revenue, and costs due to increase in the new year, the current trading environment is untenable for businesses.”

Support needed

Kill continued: “The Government must extend the energy relief scheme and consider further support for the night-time economy and hospitality sectors to avoid a huge swathe of businesses going into insolvency in January.”

Aslef, which represents 96% of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, announced this week it would hold a one-day strike on Thursday 5 January after members at 15 train companies voted overwhelmingly for more walkouts in a long-running dispute over pay.

Meanwhile, the RMT union, which represents railway workers such as signallers, maintenance staff, ticket collectors and cleaners, announced in November, it would hold two 48-hour strikes on 3 and 4 January followed by another on 6 and 7 January​ as an improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions with 15 different train companies has failed to be agreed.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place.”

Real-terms pay cut

He continued: “They have not offered our members at these companies a penny – and these are people who have not had an increase since April 2019.

“That means they expect train drivers at these companies to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard for considerably less – when inflation is running at north of 14%.”

Whelan added the train companies have said their hands have been tied by the Government while the Government says it’s up to the companies to negotiate with the union.

The train companies affected by the Aslef strike action are Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; South Western Railway (depot drivers only); SWR Island Line; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.

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