The ongoing disputes between UK train companies and unions have extended for well over a year, as rail workers have been taking action to voice their concerns about inadequate pay and working conditions. Furthermore, additional industrial action is scheduled to occur in the upcoming weeks.
The ASLEF and RMT unions have recently declared two additional strike dates, with ASLEF also unveiling a series of overtime bans. Both unions have secured the support of their members to continue these strikes in the months ahead. If you are concerned about the potential impact on your travel plans, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you stay informed.
When Are the Next Train Strike Dates?
- ASLEF has announced two strike dates: September 30 and October 4.
- The RMT has also announced two strikes for October 4 and October 6 on the London Underground, which is not expected to impact other services. Additionally, ASLEF drivers will not work overtime on several dates: September 19 and the five days from October 2 to October 6.
Which Train Lines Will Be Affected?
When RMT and ASLEF workers go on strike, the following train lines are usually affected:
- Avanti West Coast
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- Greater Anglia
- GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
- South Western Railway
- Chiltern Railways
- Northern Trains
- West Midlands Railway
In addition, the Island Line on the Isle of Wight is affected by ASLEF action. For the RMT’s upcoming action on October 4 and 6, the London Underground will also be affected.
How Will Rail Travel Be Affected by the Strikes?
During strikes, rail travel across the country typically comes to a halt as most rail firms’ workers participate in the action. Disruptions can extend beyond the strike day, affecting services in the afternoon and evening before the strike and on the morning after. This is due to trains and drivers being out of their planned positions as a result of the strikes.
Do Workers Get Paid When on Strike?
According to UK law, employers are not obligated to pay employees who participate in industrial action. However, some unions set aside funds to provide “strike pay” to their members during strike actions.
When Will the Rail Strikes End?
The strikes are likely to continue for the rest of 2023 unless an agreement on pay, job security, and working conditions is reached between unions and rail operators.
Why Are Rail Workers Striking?
Different rail unions are striking for various reasons, including job security, working conditions, and the overarching issue of a cut in real-terms pay. ASLEF drivers, for instance, are striking due to what they consider an inadequate pay offer and changes to working conditions. The RMT is striking in response to disputes over working conditions, job security, and pay.
Working Practices and Concerns
Changes in travel habits following the pandemic have led some employers to consider altering previous working practices and introducing new technology to run teams more efficiently. Unions are concerned this may lead to job cuts, making it a contentious issue in the dispute.
Can I Get a Refund if My Train Is Cancelled?
If your train is canceled, delayed, or rescheduled due to industrial action, you are entitled to a change or refund from the original ticket retailer. You may also be able to use your ticket with another train company or on an alternative route if available.
Is the Eurostar Affected?
Eurostar has stated that the strikes will not impact its timetable. However, if you have a connecting journey within the UK, check whether it’s still running before you depart and allow extra time when traveling to and from London on strike days.
Statements from Rail Chiefs and Unions
Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, expressed concerns about the government’s approach, emphasizing that train drivers at these companies haven’t had a pay rise for four years, despite rising inflation. He also noted a lack of communication with employers and the government.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, emphasized that their members remain determined in their national dispute over pay, job security, and working conditions. He mentioned the need for improved or revised offers from the Rail Delivery Group and noted that discussions have been hindered by a lack of a fresh mandate from the government.