‘Strong support’ for train drivers’ strike as bitter dispute continues


A strike by train drivers was “strongly supported” on Saturday amid fresh clashes between unions and the government over a bitter pay, jobs and conditions dispute.

Commuters faced another day of travel disruption as thousands of SLIF members across seven train companies staged a 24-hour walkout.

The union said it had received a 6.6 per cent pay rise offer from Transport for Wales which it would pass on to its members.

Picket lines were set up outside train stations and Asliffe said the strikers had public support.

Protesters on a picket line outside Leeds train station (Danny Lawson/PA) / PA Wire

General Secretary Mick Whelan clashed with Transport Secretary Grant Shepps, accusing him of lying.

He told the PA news agency: “Today’s strike was solid. It shows the solidarity of our members and their determination to push on from Grants, the Department for Transport, and the train companies.

“Having kept the UK moving through the pandemic, they expect our members, who have not had a pay rise since 2019, to continue working effectively for pay cuts.

“We are only asking for a rise in line with the rise in the cost of living – rising inflation is not the fault of working people in this country, it is the fault of this government and its incompetent handling of the UK economy. .

“Shapps has the key to it but, in terms of form, he’s floundering, ducking and diving, and trying, in effect, to blame someone else for the problems he’s caused. Is.

ISLIF general secretary Mick Whelan (centre in suit) joins a picket line outside Paddington train station in London (Meghana Nano/PA) / PA Wire

“He can resolve this immediately by allowing the train companies to come to the table with a sensible offer and negotiate with us.”

Former Labor shadow minister Sam Terry, who was sacked last week after giving a broadcast interview from a picket line, said he “absolutely” still thinks Sir Keir Starmer is the best person to be prime minister.

Joining another picket line at London’s Paddington station on Saturday, the former shadow transport minister said it was “really important” for Labor MPs to show solidarity with striking workers.

He said: “We should never have been in a situation where we had an order that you can’t join the picket line. This is the Labor Party, in the name. We are a party set up by trade unions. are

He added that the link between the union movement and the Labor Party was “indivisible” and “part of the same fabric”.

Sam Terry, former shadow transport minister, joins the picket line outside Paddington train station (Meghana Nano/PA) / PA Wire

Grant Shepps told The Times: “The ‘Two Micks’, Lynch of the RMT and Wheelan of Aslef, are taking the taxpayer for a ride, but not in the way they want.

“RMT is stalling on reforms and Aslef is dragging its feet on negotiations while both are calling for more strikes. Enough.”

In response, Mr Whelan told Times Radio: “I say Mr Shepps is lying, quite simply, quite frankly.

“We’re not dragging our feet in negotiations, we negotiate with 14 private companies, we don’t work for the government or the DfT (Department for Transport).

“I would like Mr. Scheps to get us out of this catch-22 situation that he misrepresents at every opportunity.”

The strike affected Areva Rail London, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, South Eastern and West Midlands trains.

A DfT spokesman said: “It is highly misleading to suggest that the Transport Secretary should be involved in these negotiations.

“His role is to protect the public purse, to ensure value for money for the hardworking people of this country. As such, he needs to set the limits of taxpayer contributions and ultimately sign off on any agreement – Not engaging in any negotiations – and its contracts with operators allow it to do exactly that.

“Unions are well aware that negotiations over pay and working practices are not with the government – they are with the employers of the people they represent. We again urge union representatives to Back to the negotiating table.

Football fans were traveling for the opening week of the English leagues, and Commonwealth Games-goers in Birmingham were among those affected by the disruption.

Strike action will be stepped up next month with a series of stoppages by Aslef, the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staff Association.

Meanwhile, Hitachi Rail workers are set to strike for three consecutive days from Sunday over pay and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) whose jobs involve maintenance are in dispute over pay and issues including breaks, holiday entitlement and shift length.