New dates for industrial action announced by Aslef – including on FA Cup final date

Further cuts to train timetables have been made in response to Covid-related staff shortages.

Three days of train strikes have been announced by Aslef – including on the day of the FA Cup final.

The decision to take industrial action comes as the train drivers’ union rejected a pay offer from 16 train companies.

The dates announced are Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May, and Saturday 3 June – the latter on the day of the football cup final and the Epsom Derby.

Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Our executive committee met this morning and rejected a risible proposal we received from a pressure group which represents some of the train companies.

“The proposal – of just 4% – was clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10% and our members at these companies have not had an increase for four years.”

As well as strikes, Aslef said it would withdraw non-contractual overtime from 15 May to 20 May and again on 13 May and 1 June.

The industrial action announced today will affect some of the UK’s biggest train firms, including Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, London North Eastern Railway and South Western Railway.

Mr Whelan said the union “do not want to go on strike” but added the “blame for this action lies, fairly and squarely, at the feet of the employers who have forced our hand over this by their intransigence”.

“It is now up to them to come up with a more sensible, and realistic, offer and we ask the government not to hinder this process,” he said.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “It is deeply disappointing that Aslef has decided to call strikes and ban overtime, targeting thousands of people attending the UK’s first Eurovision event in 25 years – including Ukrainians displaced by Putin’s war – and the first ever all-Manchester FA Cup final.

“The fair and reasonable offer from the RDG included urgent reform to ensure our railways are financially sustainable for the benefit of passengers, rail workers and the taxpayer as well as delivering a pay rise – for members whose salary already averages £60,000 a year.

“Aslef need to call off these strikes and give their members a say on this offer.”

The latest action announced by Aslef comes as the government took the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to court over its planned strike from Sunday night until 8pm on Tuesday 2 May and won, with the court ruling part of the strikes were unlawful.

Teachers who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) are also on strike today across England and Wales in a dispute with the government over pay.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA) says: “Sadly, we are no longer surprised by the disappointing news of yet more crippling strike action across the rail network.

While the world’s eyes are fixed on the UK as we host the FA Cup Final and Eurovision – for the first time in 25 years on behalf of Ukraine – it is disgraceful that the Government and Unions can’t coordinate to end the relentless industrial action that has forced the country to stop in its tracks.

As uncertainty over Britain’s transport reliability understandably grows, these strikes are a setback to Sunak’s push for the collaboration of British businesses. The Unions need to stop pointing fingers and come to a reasonable solution with the Government, to support their rail staff whilst accommodating inflation rates.”