Two unions announce rail strikes which could hit East of England trains

Members at the Aslef (pictured) and TSSA trade unions are set to strike across three dates in September

Members at the Aslef (pictured) and TSSA trade unions are set to strike across three dates in September - Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Railway staff strikes are set to bring trains in the East of England to a halt in September.

On August 30 and 31, two trade unions announced fresh 24-hour strike periods.

Members of the Aslef train drivers' union are set to walk out on Thursday, September 15, and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association members are due to down tools at midday on Monday, September 26 until midday on Tuesday, September 27.

A third railway union - RMT - has threatened strikes amid a dispute over a government funding deal for Transport for London.

Railway workers have been taking part in strikes since June amid a dispute over salaries and job security during sky-high inflation - which could reach 22 per cent in 2023, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: "We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced.

"We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand.

"They want train drivers to take a real terms pay cut – to work just as hard this year as last, but for 10 per cent less.

"Because inflation is now in double figures and heading higher – much higher, according to some forecasts – and yet the train companies have offered us nothing.

"And this for train drivers who kept Britain moving – key workers and goods around the country – throughout the pandemic and who have not had an increase in salary since 2019."

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, shows off a novelty t-shirt at a demonstration on August 13

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, shows off a novelty t-shirt at a demonstration on August 13 - Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Manuel Cortes, TSSA trade union leader, said: "The dead hand of Grant Shapps is sadly stopping DfT train operating companies from making a revised, meaningful offer.

"Frankly, he either sits across the negotiating table with our union or gets out of the way to allow railway bosses to freely negotiate with us, as they have done in the past.

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"The reason for the current impasse lies squarely at Shapps’ door and passengers are paying a high price for his incompetence and intransigence.

"I welcome the fact that negotiations are ongoing with Network Rail and the gap towards a resolution is narrowing.

"Time will tell whether a deal can be done to avert our next strike."

Transport Salaried Staffs' Association members are set to stage a walkout from 12pm, September 26 until 12pm, September 27

Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) members are set to stage a walkout between midday on September 26 until midday on September 27 - Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

On September 15, the Aslef member strike is set to hit 12 railway firms.

In the East of England, this is likely to affect passengers travelling with Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground and West Midlands Trains (including London Northwestern Railway).

Elsewhere, passengers who travel with Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, Southeastern and TransPennine Express should expect disruption.

According to Aslef, driver pay deals have already been agreed at nine brands, including DB Cargo, GB Railfreight and Freightliner which run trains out of the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, and MTR Elizabeth line in Essex and London.

Aslef members at Greater Anglia are set to take part in a strike on September 15

Aslef members at Greater Anglia are set to take part in a strike on September 15 - Credit: Greater Anglia

Outside of the East of England, staff at GWR are set to take part in the two September strikes

Outside of the East of England, staff at GWR are set to take part in the two September strikes - Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

According to Aslef, the union agreed a pay deal with some freight firms which run trains out of Felixstowe

According to Aslef, the union agreed a pay deal with some freight firms - including Freightliner - which run trains out of Felixstowe - Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

On September 26 and 27, some Network Rail staff who are TSSA members are set to walk out, which could affect routes throughout the country.

Members are also set to walk out at Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and Great Western Railway.

East Midlands Railway staff are set to strike from September 26, which could cause disruption in the Ely and Norwich areas

East Midlands Railway staff are set to strike from September 26, which could cause disruption in the Peterborough, Ely and Norwich areas - Credit: EMR

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, who is also the MP for Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, who is also the MP for Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire - Credit: Danny Loo

The RMT has threatened strike action on Transport for London services - which run in Hertfordshire and Essex - on the basis that a two-year funding deal for TfL could result in job losses, a pension cut or future pay restraints.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP has previously criticised strike action on the railways.

In July, he criticised an Aslef strike.

Mr Shapps said: "Train drivers already earn almost £60,000 but clearly that’s not enough for Aslef bosses, who have called more strikes designed to hurt the people they claim to stand for, and who on average earn far less.

"Taxpayers gave £600 p/household to the railway during Covid-19 and deserve better."

According to the government's own National Careers Service, train driver salaries start at £24,000.