Posted 17th July 2023 | 3 Comments

Rail union leader claims government does not care about passengers or staff

The general secretary of the drivers’ union ASLEF has launched a broadside against the government and train operators, accusing them of not caring about railway passengers and staff.

His comments came as he announced another week-long overtime ban in England between 31 July and 5 August.

ASLEF has already started a similar ban today, which will continue until Saturday. It is the third of its kind, because ASLEF had already withdrawn ‘non-contractual’ overtime from 15 to 20 May, and also earlier this month for six days from 3 July.

The operators affected are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Govia Thameslink Railway, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway and Island Line, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We don’t want to take this action. We don’t want people to be inconvenienced. But the blame lies with the train companies, and the government which stands behind them, which refuse to sit down and talk to us and have not made a fair and sensible pay offer to train drivers who have not had one for four years – since 2019 – while prices have soared in that time by more than 12 per cent.

‘The proposal they made on Wednesday 26 April – of 4 per cent with a further rise dependent, in a naked land grab on drivers giving up terms and conditions for which we have fought and negotiated for years – was not designed to be accepted.

‘We have not heard a word from the employers since then – not a meeting, not a phone call, not a text message, nor an email – for the last twelve weeks, and we haven’t sat down with the government since 6 January. That shows how little the companies and the government care about passengers and staff. They appear content to let this drift on and on.

‘In contrast, we want a fair resolution. That’s why we are taking this action, to try to bring things to a head. Then I can concentrate on my day job working with others in the industry to rebuild Britain’s railways for passengers, for business, and for this country.’

Meanwhile, the RMT is set to stage 24-hour National Rail walkouts on 20, 22 and 29 July, and also a ‘week of action’ on London Underground between 23 and 28 July.

The Rail Delivery Group said: ‘While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced services between Monday 17 July and Saturday 29 July, so our advice is to check before you travel.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Steve Alston, Crewe

    I note a comment above regarding workplace reform in Japan since WW2.

    It should be noted that the 'reformed' workplace culture in Japan cost 106 JR West passengers their lives when management decided those drivers who threaten punctuality figures should be insulted, wear a hat with insulting phrases written on and do degrading gardening duties infront of the depot which led to one driver doing 75 in a 45mph after managers in control had screamed down the radio at him for being 75 seconds late.

    As for Germany, they've had no end of strikes, but the adults running their country recognised the cost of living and mostly settled, unlike this country which is run by clueless donkeys, elected by clueless donkeys.

  • david C smith, Bletchley

    One underlying problem in UK for many years has been the adversarial relations between managers and the managed ( remember the film " I'm alright Jack" ?). Meanwhile, for many years, Japan and W. Germany forged ahead with ( ironically , put in place by us , the allied western powers after 1945 ) a system of cooperation between capital and labour.

    Perhaps someone could try and sort out this unfortunate tendency in UK, hopefully giving us a rail industry with people working to a common end.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Maybe the government is contemplating a period of greater pain - a lockout to force their offer on employees?