Two UK rail workers unions Tuesday announced strikes after failing to reach a deal with train operators. One of the unions, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) announced two, one-day strikes. The other, the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) announced they will join ASLEF in two, one-day strike as well.
RMT’s brief press release stated the strike action is over “jobs pay and conditions.” ASLEF’s press release indicated rail workers are frustrated with the negotiation process and the government. The ASLEF said that the proposed deal was “not the result of negotiation” and was “made by the cartel put in place on behalf of a government which has been shown to be interfering in the talks.”
Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper appeared optimistic that a deal would be reached on Sunday. However, ASLEF rejected the proposed deal.
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said:
The proposal is not and could not ever be acceptable…Not only is the offer a real-terms pay cut, with inflation running north of 10%, but it came with so many conditions attached that it was clearly unacceptable. They want to rip up our terms and conditions in return for a real-terms pay cut!
ASLEF and RMT previously went on strike in early January over the same issues. Tuesday’s ASLEF press release noted that the union has called for six one-day strikes over the past 12 months. The rail workers unions are joined by other strike actions such as the February 1 strike by University and College Union (UCU), which estimates 70,000 UCU members will join.
Like UCU, ASLEF and RMT are scheduled to strike February 1, which coincides with Britain’s Trade Union Congress’s (TUC) “protect the right to strike” day. The rail workers unions will also strike on February 3.