Train Drivers to Strike During Conservative Party Conference
Fresh Strikes Announced Train drivers represented by Aslef are set to stage fresh strikes as part of their ongoing dispute over pay. These strikes are strategically timed to coincide with the Conservative party’s annual conference.
Strike Dates and Disruption Aslef announced that its members at 16 train operators will engage in strike action on September 30, the day before the Conservative party conference begins, and on October 4, the final day of the event. The strikes are expected to lead to the cancellation of all train services, causing travel disruptions for passengers. This includes attendees traveling to and from the Conservative conference in Manchester, scheduled from October 1 to 4.
Overtime Ban In addition to the strikes, Aslef members will implement an overtime ban from September 29 to October 6. The union anticipates that this move will “seriously disrupt” the rail network.
Affected Train Companies The strikes will impact various train operators, including Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Great Western Railway, Island Line, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.
Union’s Position Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, expressed regret over the need for these strikes, acknowledging the inconvenience they would cause passengers. He highlighted that the government and employers had pushed the union into this position. Aslef members have not received a pay increase for four years, and the rising prices during that period have made this situation untenable. Whelan criticized Transport Secretary Mark Harper, comparing him to “Where’s Wally?” and claiming that he had not contacted the union since December.
Calls for Government Intervention Whelan emphasized the government’s role in the dispute, suggesting that the train companies had indicated their inability to act without government approval. The union’s actions underscore the urgency of addressing the pay issues faced by train drivers and preventing further disruptions in the rail network.