Train drivers announce strike action

RAIL users travelling between East Anglia and London could face major disruption after a trade union announced a series of train driver strikes on six consecutive Fridays - the first of which is next week.

RAIL users travelling between East Anglia and London could face major disruption after a trade union announced a series of train driver strikes on six consecutive Fridays - the first of which is next week.

ASLEF has confirmed that its 750 members working for operator One will take industrial action against the company on November 10, 17 and 24 and December 1, 8 and 15.

The dispute is over a pay offer which the union deems “totally unacceptable”.

ASLEF officials claim that since late September One has moved little on the issue and tried to throw doubt on the union's method of consulting its membership.

But a spokesman for East Anglia's train company said the revised pay offer was very competitive and had been accepted by ASLEF's executive committee.

Last night rail users groups said they were disappointed that strike action was being considered and warned disruption could be considerable if the two sides did not sit down and work something out.

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Trevor Garrod, chairman of the East Suffolk Travellers Association, said: “Quite clearly the union feel very strongly about this and there is an issue to be discussed.

“The strikes would be unsettling for rail users and I think the two sides need to get together in an effort to come up with a solution that suits them both.”

Neil Skinner, chairman of Manningtree Rail Users Association, said: “I think the vast majority of One drivers are members of ASLEF so potentially the strikes could be very disruptive.

“It is disappointing that industrial action is being considered because from what I can tell the pay offer is actually very generous and has been recommended by the trade union's executive committee.”

Andy Reed, ASLEF national organiser, said 94% of members had voted for strike action but claimed One was refusing to admit it had a problem.

“Well it does have a problem,” he said. “They need to recognise this and try to sort it out by coming back to the negotiating table in good faith.”

Mr Reed said he regretted the inconvenience it would cause to rail passengers but added: “We will just tell them that the company treats its workers in the same way it does its passengers - poorly.”

A One spokesman said the company was disappointed the revised pay offer had been rejected because it had been accepted by ASLEF's executive committee and was “very competitive” at 3.7% - one of the highest increases offered to drivers in the rail industry this year.

He confirmed officials from the train company would be meeting with representatives from the trade union on Monday to try and resolve the dispute.

“The company is committed to holding further talks to reach an outcome which is satisfactory to all involved, thereby avoiding unhelpful and unwanted disruption for our customers,” he said.

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