September 30, 2023

Rail commuters will again face travel chaos due to another strike on Saturday amid escalation of the long-standing dispute over wages.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) will walkout 14 train operators across England on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.

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Action by train drivers at the Asleaf union on Friday followed a strike that crippled services, with parts of England running no trains for the day.

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Asleaf, revealed that there has been no meeting with the government since early January, despite the impasse over the pay row continuing.

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He told the PA news agency that the drivers were prepared to continue with industrial action until they had a good pay offer.

Aslef described the proposal for an 8% pay rise over two years as “invisible”.

Mr Whelan, who joined picket lines in Manchester and Liverpool, said: “The government thinks they can get us back to work, or we’ll give up, but that’s not going to happen.

“We are in this for the long haul and there will be more attacks.”

Aslef has called for further stoppages on 31 May and 3 June on the day of the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Rail Delivery Group said it had made a “revised and justified offer”, including a pay rise of 8% over two years, after several weeks of talks with Eslef leadership.

“It will introduce already overdue, common sense improvements to parts of the network, which will see more trains running on time for passengers.

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A spokesperson said, “Sadly it has been rejected.”

Passengers were urged to check before traveling on Saturday.

Merseyrail is not affected by the industrial action and is expected to run a normal service during the Eurovision Song Contest.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said he expected solid support for Saturday’s walkout.

He said: “The strike follows the recent re-polling of members working for 14 train operating companies, which has reaffirmed the mandate for further large scale strike action.

“Throughout this controversy the government has tied the hands of the railway companies and prevented them from offering a fair deal.

“We are going on strike so that the employers and the government see that the huge anger among the railway employees is very real and they need to recognize this fact, face the reality and come up with a better resolution.

“We are calling on the rail companies to negotiate with the RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.”

The RMT reported that when it recently polled its members again it voted “overwhelmingly” to continue with strike action.

The union said Saturday was chosen for the strike as it was the last date allowed under employment laws.

There will be more train services on Saturday than on Friday but many companies are limiting their number of routes and hours of operation.