The head of Britain’s train drivers’ union has warned of “massive” disruptions this summer as his members vote on the first national strike since 1995, which will add to travel chaos in the UK.
Aslef’s vote on strike action, representing drivers, coincided with similar votes by staff at stations and ticket offices belonging to the TSSA.these follow RMT’s strike last month This has brought UK rail travel to a near standstill.
The prospect of a new rail strike was further evidence of the damage caused by rising inflation as protesters blocked parts of the motorway network over high oil prices on Monday.
Aslef is polling drivers for 10 train companies, with the first results due next week. “It’s going to be more disruptive than in the past. We don’t strike very often,” Mick Whelan, secretary general of the drivers’ union Aslef, told the Financial Times.
As employees at the three companies have voted to strike, Whelan said it is “likely” that the strike will be coordinated, effectively leading to the first national driver strike since 1995. “we believe [strikes] There will be a huge impact,” he said, adding: “There will be a summer of chaos. ”
Whelan said employees have already received a 2 percent raise, plus savings from productivity improvements, such as changing shift patterns.Unions want an increase close to inflation, which is It is expected to reach 11% to October.
Contingency plans for replacing striking drivers are very limited. If all the company’s drivers leave at the same time, the network will run less than 10 percent of normal service, two industry executives said.
The TSSA has also threatened to take action, with the results of the votes from 10 train operators and Network Rail to be announced in the next two weeks.
Avanti West Coast staff voted “overwhelmingly” last week for strike action over pay, job security and conditions disputes, with TSSA secretary Manuel Cortez warning ministers to “watch out” as the outcome “Just the beginning”.
Meanwhile, RMT will restart talks with Network Rail and 13 train operating companies next Monday to avoid further strikes.
Whelan denied that the three unions would coordinate the strike. However, the flood of votes sent across the industry meant some railroad executives had to accept a summer of escalating disruption.
The government is threatening new “minimum service agreements”, meaning a certain amount of service must be maintained in the event of a strike. But ministers said it would take months to draft the legislation.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Grant Shapps is keen to introduce a new law that will make it harder for unions to strike unless they strictly adhere to the wording of the original vote.
“We want to see rail unions fully engaged with their employers, and instead Aslef first tries to cause further suffering to passengers by disrupting the rail network with others,” the government said.
With rail on the brink of more strikes, parts of Britain’s road network were hit on Monday by slow barricades where protesters complained of soaring fuel costs.
Police made 12 arrests following protests on the M4, with demonstrations also reported on roads in England including the A12, M5, M54 and Scotland.
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The action represents the clearest rebound to date against soaring fuel costs, with “Yellow vest” protest In France after organising on social media.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slashed fuel taxes by 5p a litre in March, but that had little impact.
The RAC is calling on retailers to cut the cost of petrol by 5p per litre after the price of petrol hit a new record of 191.53 pa litres, while diesel prices are still on the brink of £2.
“While we respect the right to protest, it should not disrupt people’s daily lives,” the government said.