Train drivers to strike on FA Cup final day

The Aslef union has announced that train drivers will continue their pay dispute by striking on three dates: 12 May, 31 May, and 3 June, which coincides with the FA Cup final.

Despite 16 train companies proposing a fresh offer, including a two-year consecutive 4% pay increase and alterations to working conditions, the Aslef union declined the offer. Consequently, the organisation representing train companies has deemed the upcoming walkouts to be “completely unwarranted.”

Around 13,000 drivers are expected to participate in the planned strikes on 12 May, 31 May, and 3 June, resulting in significant disruptions to the country’s railways. Notably, the first day of the strikes will coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.

Furthermore, on 3 June, football enthusiasts will travel to Wembley Stadium in London to witness Manchester United face off against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

The Avanti West Coast train drivers, who operate the main direct train service from Manchester to London, will go on strike on the day of the FA Cup final. This is likely to result in most fans having to travel by road.

Currently, both football clubs are evaluating the scenario and communicating with the Football Association (FA), with each side anticipated to sell around 30,000 tickets for the match.

The 3 June strike will also impact other events like Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour concert at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium, the Epsom Derby, and the England men’s cricket team’s match against Ireland at Lord’s.

The Rail Delivery Group has defended its pay offer, stating that it is “fair and reasonable,” and that the salary of train drivers, who already earn an average of £60,000 per year, will increase.

The following 14 train companies will also experience walkouts alongside Avanti West Coast:

  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Great Western Railway
  • Greater Anglia
  • GTR Great Northern Thameslink
  • London North Eastern Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • Southeastern
  • Southern/Gatwick Express
  • SWR depot drivers
  • SWR Island Line
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Trains

According to Mick Whelan, the latest offer made by the train companies through the Rail Delivery Group on Wednesday was “risible” and did not reflect the increased cost of living, which rose over 10% in the year to March. He added that the proposal was not intended to be accepted.

“The employers’ intransigence has forced our hand, and the blame for this action lies fairly and squarely at their feet,” said Mr Whelan. However, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which speaks for train companies, argued that the strike was “totally unnecessary” and would only add to the pressures on an industry already struggling with a severe financial crisis.

The Aslef union’s decision to strike again follows eight previous walkouts and months of railway disruption. The RMT union is also considering a pay offer from train companies and consulting with its members.

According to the RDG, its proposal to Aslef includes a 4% pay rise for 2022 and 2023, which will be backdated. The group claims that this offer would increase the average salary of drivers from £60,000 per year to £65,000 by the end of 2023. A decade ago, the average salary was £44,985.

Aslef said that in addition to striking, its members will also stop working non-contractual overtime from May 15 to May 20, and on May 13 and June 1. The deal offered by RDG was contingent on agreed changes to working conditions, including the methods for learning new routes and a “Sunday Commitment Protocol” obliging drivers to work Sundays.

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By Ryan

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