More Misery for Workers: Train Drivers Plan March Strike Amidst Persistent Disputes

Train drivers at Northern and LNER plan to strike in March, citing persistent breaches of agreements by the rail operators, escalating tensions amidst ongoing industrial action across the sector. Here’s the whole story.

Rocky Recovery

The British economy is not doing well, with a persistent cost of living crisis, stubbornly high inflation and the recent news that we are technically back in recession. 

Thanks to the government’s economic mismanagement, strikes have been common up and down the country. Working people, struggling with the increasing costs of utilities and household necessities, argue for better pay or working conditions. 

This prolonged industrial action is facing another potential flare-up as Northern and LNER (London North Eastern Railway) train drivers plan to strike, disrupting train travel across Northern England, the Midlands and parts of Scotland. 

Strike Action

The announcement of the strike action was made by the Aslef union, which claims persistent failures by the rail operators to honour previous agreements. 

Aslef has accused LNER of breaching service agreements, including the particularly prickly issue of paying managers to operate trains during strike days. 

Meanwhile, Northern is accused of neglecting procedures and agreements regarding the treatment of union representatives, who cited concerns regarding bullying, intimidation, and gaslighting.

No Pay Rise

The strikes are made more understandable with the knowledge that the train drivers have gone over five years without seeing a pay rise. 

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, expressed his deep frustration with the train operators, stating, “We always stick to agreements which we make. These companies think they can break agreements, which they freely enter into, whenever it suits them. And they’re wrong. This is a shot across their bows and a sign of things to come.”

In response, Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, stated, “We’re surprised and disappointed that strike action has been called over a local disagreement that we have all been working positively to resolve. We encourage ASLEF to work with us to find a solution and avoid further disruption for customers.”

Similarly, an LNER spokesperson reiterated the focus on minimising disruption and urged Aslef to work towards ending the protracted dispute.

Spring of Strikes

The strike announcement coincides with ongoing industrial action across multiple rail operators, including Chiltern, C2C, East Midlands, and TransPennine railways. 

The six-month mandate for continued strike action underscores the persistence of the grievances related to pay and conditions felt by many rail workers. 

Mick Whelan highlighted the resounding rejection of offers made by the Rail Delivery Group last April, stating, “These results show, yet again, a clear rejection by train drivers of the ridiculous offer put to us in April last year by the Rail Delivery Group on behalf of the train operating companies with whom we are in dispute.”

“But we remain open and willing, as ever, to talk about a revised offer. That’s why we are asking the secretary of state for transport or the rail minister, Huw Merriman, to come and meet us,” he finished. 

Economic Challenges

The Rail Delivery Group attempted to see off the union’s claims of financial mismanagement by drawing attention to the economic challenges faced by the rail sector. It urged Aslef to acknowledge this within the context of the strikes. 

Despite the billions of pounds the government gives the rail operators each year, it seems even they are feeling the pinch in these uncertain economic times. 

Strike Disruption

While the Rail Delivery Group acknowledged the disruption caused by strikes, they took great pains to emphasise the absence of winners in prolonged disputes like the one they are facing.

The strike is scheduled for March 1st, coupled with an overtime ban from February 29th to March 2nd.

The strike is part of a strategy by Aslef to exert pressure on Northern and LNER. The union, as all unions do, aims to leverage the disruption in their favour to push for resolving their long-standing grievances. 

Growing Calls for Dialogue

As tensions mount and passengers worry about the upcoming dispute, there are growing calls for transparent dialogue, with both unions and rail operators working to safeguard both workers’ rights and passengers’ interests in the smooth functioning of the railways. 

With passengers bearing the brunt of ongoing disputes, swift action to mitigate disruptions should be at the forefront of the minds of those involved. 

As the spectre of strikes looms large over the rail industry, passengers, operators, and unions alike are all bracing for the turbulent times ahead. 

Smooth Functioning

As with all industrial actions, the path to resolution lies in the worker’s and the bosses’ shared commitment to finding fair solutions that uphold previous agreements while ensuring the rail network’s smooth functioning.

As the economic situation in the country continues to deteriorate, these will almost certainly not be the last strikes we see.

More Articles Like This…

Broken Britain: 12 Reasons Behind the UK’s Decline

Say the Unsayable: 10 Occasions When Farage Spoke His Mind About Britain

The post More Misery for Workers: Train Drivers Plan March Strike Amidst Persistent Disputes first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / alice-photo.

Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

Leave a Comment