UK Train Strikes Announced for December

In December, rail passengers will face new disruptions after more train drivers have announced further strikes.

Aslef announced on Thursday that it would be launching a “rolling program” of strikes between 2 December and 8 December, with different train operators striking on each day.

The members have been prohibited from working overtime in the period between December 1 to December 9.

The union warned that spreading the strike would have “greater implications for the Rail Industry”.

Mick Whelan is the general secretary of Aslef. He said: “We’re determined to win this conflict.”

Aslef announced that its strike would see drivers walking out for six days.

  • East Midlands Railway and LNER Saturday, December 2
  • Trains from Chiltern Railways and Great Northern to West Midlands, West Midlands, West Coast, Avanti West Coast on Sunday, December 3.
  • C2C and Greater Anglia Tuesday, December 5
  • Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express and South Western Railway mainline, Island Line, Wednesday, December 6
  • CrossCountry and GWR Thursday, December 7
  • Northern and TransPennine Express will be running on Friday, December 8.

The strike is the latest in a wave public sector industrial action which began last summer in the rail industry before spreading to the NHS, schools, and scores of government agencies.

The government has been unable to control the impact of ongoing strikes by junior doctors and hospital consultants, as well as rail disruptions.

Aslef refused in April a pay increase offer from the government and industry of 8 percent over two years. The offer was tied to major reforms of work practices. Whelan called it “a land grab” for Aslef’s terms and conditions.

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, urged Aslef leadership this week to return the offer of pay and reform to its members. This was just days after RMT had reached an agreement to end their national strike.

Aslef’s Whelan stated that the “ridiculous” offer made by the industry “was not on the table”, as it was already rejected.

If the RMT agreement is approved by its members, workers will receive a pay increase of 5% retroactively for 2022-23, and reforms will be negotiated in 2019. Local strikes are still possible but the RMT mandate to stop national strike action is over.

The government and train companies have both insisted that reforms must be made to reduce staffing costs. Industry revenues are down by about 25% from their pre-pandemic level due to the decline in commuter traffic.

The unions that represent workers in the public and private sector say ministers have prolongated disputes by refusing to engage and instead pushing controversial anti-strike laws.

The government revived on Thursday plans to reverse a law that banned the use of agency staff in breaking strikes. This measure was first introduced last year, but it was overturned by courts.

The Ministers also published guidance for employers on the new legislation which will require that certain workers provide a minimum level of service during strikes in the public sector.

Rail bosses don’t expect to have minimum service levels in place before the Aslef strike.

Paul Nowak said that the Trades Union Congress secretary-general, the legislation was “designed to escalate conflicts — not resolve them”.

Rail Delivery Group (which represents the industry) said: “This totally unnecessary strike call by Aslef will sadly disrupt businesses and customers ahead of this vital festive season.

The fair and affordable industry offer, which would increase the average base salary for four-day workweek drivers from £60,000 up to almost £65,000 remains on table, it said.