*****UPDATE: The RMT union has suspended its planned industrial action, stating:
“RMT joins the whole nation in paying its respects to Queen Elizabeth.
“The planned railway strike action on 15 and 17 September is suspended.
“We express our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the country.”*****
Train drivers at 12 operating companies (TOCs) are set to take part in industrial action later this month, in an ongoing dispute over pay.
The Aslef union said that members would walk out between 0000 and 2359 on Thursday September 15.
The TOCs affected by the latest round of walkouts are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Cross Country, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railways, Hull, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
Meanwhile the RMT union has confirmed that its members will also stage industrial action on September 15 and 17, with over 40,000 workers from Network Rail and 14 train operating companies set to take part in the walkouts.
And in a separate dispute the RMT said that workers from Hull Trains and Arriva Rail London will also be taking one day of strike action on September 15.
The news follows previous industrial action across the rail network by the RMT and Aslef unions this summer, as well as tube, bus and tram strikes.
Aslef said that its members were taking action as “Most train drivers haven’t had a pay increase since 2019”, adding that “When inflation goes up and pay doesn’t, that’s a real-terms pay cut”.
“We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced,” said Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary. “Because we don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand.
“They want train drivers to take a real terms pay cut – to work just as hard this year as last, but for 10 per cent less. Because inflation is now in double figures and heading higher – much higher, according to some forecasts – and yet the train companies have offered us nothing.
“And this for train drivers who kept Britain moving – key workers and goods around the country – throughout the pandemic and who have not had an increase in salary since 2019.
“We want the companies – which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses – to make a proper pay offer to help our members keep up with the increase in the cost of living.
“That’s why we are calling on the companies today to do the right thing – the decent thing – and come back to the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept.”
Meanwhile RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:
“Our members have no choice but to continue this strike action. Network Rail and the train operating companies have shown little interest this past few weeks in offering our members anything new in order for us to be able to come to a negotiated settlement.
“Grant Shapps continues his dereliction of duty by staying in his bunker and shackling the rail industry from making a deal with us.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith, but the employers and government need to understand our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes.”
Commenting on the news Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said:
“The news of another train strike just as business travel should be hitting its peak in September will have a devastating impact on companies of all sizes across the country.
“We urge the Unions to work with the train companies to keep vital intercity links working so that business can continue.
“The cost of living crisis is hurting us all, not just train drivers. Most businesses do not have the option to strike and cripple a country.”