Train drivers at nine operating companies went on strike last week. Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef walked out for 24 hours in a pay dispute at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, and London Overground. Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, said that train companies claim to be barred from awarding a pay rise in line with inflation by “dodgy deals” imposed by the government when their franchises were turned into management contracts, but the government says the dispute is nothing to do with it and must be dealt with by the companies.

The bosses say the decision now is down to the government and the government says it’s down to the operating companies.

“So we are caught in a Catch-22 situation where each side blames the other,” Mick explained.

“The drivers at these companies have not had an increase for three years. With inflation running at 9, 10, or even 11 percent, we are being told to take a real-terms pay cut. Strike action is now the only option available, but we are always open for talks if the companies, or government, want to come to the table.”

The strike has the potential to escalate with strike ballots closing at Chiltern Railways, Northern Trains, and TransPennine Express on 25 August. Workers in sector after sector are taking strike action to defend their living standards. Union leaders must build the individual sets of strikes but also to come together and to lay the basis for greater action.

 Picture credit: Image by Tim Bigger from Pixabay

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