ROLLING strike action and a national overtime ban by ASLEF members expands today, with train drivers employed by Northern and TransPennine Express rail privateers manning picket lines at Blackpool North, Doncaster, Glasgow, Manchester Victoria and Newcastle Central stations.
Speaking on the powerful picket line outside Waterloo Station in central London yesterday morning, ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Some of my members have gone five years without a pay deal. We’re 18 months into strike action. We are once more on strike to promote our cause.
‘Three years ago, when inflation started going through the roof, like many other sectors, we asked for a pay rise.
‘We then found out that the people, the privateers that we work for, had done a deal with the Westminster government not to give us a pay rise.
‘There is a move afoot to rip up our terms and conditions. We still went into negotiations in good faith, and they behaved despicably.
‘Everything we’ve got, we pay for through productivity, so how many decades or half decades should we go without a pay rise in future? Why are we not allowed to have a pay rise?
‘I remember the pandemic, being in rooms where people were begging us to keep the country going while the people that we worked for were making hundreds of millions of pounds.
‘They wouldn’t have run those trains because they’re shareholder-oriented, they have no loyalty to the country, no loyalty to the passengers, no loyalty to their employees.
‘You’ve seen it this week, where a company has been boasting about the free money they get off the government.
‘We see every company that we work with that have been in our industry for 23 years, who are declaring hundreds of millions of pounds in profits, paying dividends to shareholders, yet see fit not to give us a pay rise.
‘We don’t work for the government. We work for the privateers that they contract, who as we all know have made hundreds of millions of pounds, declaring massive dividends to their shareholders and boasting in their management meetings about the free money they are getting from the government.
‘We also see the government criticising the executives of the rail industry for their high pay and yet the people who actually do the work haven’t had a pay rise for half a decade.’
After today’s strike there’s no strike tomorrow, but, strike action resumes on Greater Anglia, C2C and LNER on Friday, with pickets at Bishop’s Stortford, Colchester, Doncaster, Edinburgh Waverley, London King’s Cross and Shoeburyness stations.
There is further strike action next Monday, with the overtime ban continuinng until next Tuesday.