Tube and train strikes: Everything you need to know as April and May disruption begins this week

Train strikes

It's currently Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 at 8:53 in the morning.

There will be a big wave of strikes in the coming month that will cause problems with National Rail services and the London Underground. Train drivers are participating in this industrial action as they are unhappy with their current pay and working conditions.

Train strikes - Figure 1
Photo City A.M.

Aslef union representatives are planning to initiate two consecutive one-day Tube strikes and walkouts at 16 national rail providers throughout the months of April and May.

Before starting their travels, passengers have been recommended to verify the latest information on the National Rail website. For the latest updates on Tube services, they can refer to the website of Transport for London (TfL).

Over 18 months have passed since the start of the ongoing national conflict that was initiated in June 2022 when the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union launched a series of train strikes.

Tube Strike Dates: When?

Aslef tube drivers are scheduling two strikes for 24 hours each, with one on the 8th of April and another on the 4th of May.

A big part of the transportation system will come to a halt and TfL has advised that other services (such as the Elizabeth Line, London Overground and DLR) that are not affected will be more crowded than usual and may possibly be canceled without much notice.

After the strikes, services will commence later than usual, but they are likely to be fully operational by mid-morning. Although the London buses will operate as usual, some routes may encounter congestion and be heavily crowded.

After Khan managed to gather £30 million of public funds, he prevented the RMT tube workers from carrying out a week-long strike in January.

Aslef is anxious that its drivers may be required to work extended periods, and that their prior arrangements with TfL and Sadiq Khan could be invalidated.

According to Finn Brennan, who is in charge of Aslef for the London Underground, TfL has not provided any guarantees that alterations to their members' contractual agreements will not be enforced unless agreed upon and all previous accords will be respected.

Even though London Underground management had promised to scrap their plans of bringing about significant changes in the working conditions of drivers, they have gone back on their word and established a team of managers who are now working full-time to enforce their plans.

The company is requesting that drivers extend their shifts and stay in their vehicles for a longer period, increasing their time by 25 percent. They also want to abolish the current working agreements in the pursuit of enhancing flexibility and efficiency.

TfL stated that they have no intentions of implementing these modifications and have assured that no one will be terminated from their job due to them.

"We have spoken with our unions to prove that we will not make any alterations that will endanger our unwavering dedication to ensuring safety on the Tube network."

The person in charge said: "We've been having lengthy talks with our trade union partners about how we could upgrade the methods and operations at London Underground to provide an enhanced experience for both the team and the clients."

Back in February, RMT managed to obtain a salary boost of 8-10% for the Tube personnel who received the lowest pay. Meanwhile, those who were better paid received a 5% hike under the same agreement.

Another labor group representing managers responsible for customer service, known as TSSA, will also stage a strike on the 10th and 11th of April.

National Strike Dates: When?

According to Aslef, the drivers employed by 16 railway firms will commence a strike on Friday 5, Saturday 6 and Monday 8 April.

The organization is also preparing to prohibit employees from working overtime for six days, starting from Thursday the 4th until Saturday the 6th of April, and then from Monday the 8th to Tuesday the 9th of April.

The national strike action has impacted various rail operators. The affected ones include:

On Friday, April 5th, four railway companies operated in the United Kingdom: Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, and CrossCountry.

On the sixth of April, you can catch trains from Chiltern, GWR, LNER, Northern, and TransPennine.

On April 8th, the railways mentioned were Greater Anglia, c2c, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway for the main line, and SWR Island Line.

What's Causing These Strikes?

Generally speaking, labor unions are advocating for improved compensation and working circumstances for their constituents in light of inflation and ongoing expenses.

The new minimum service legislation has made them extremely angry. This law requires train companies to have sufficient staff to operate 40% of services even during strike periods.

Aslef's higher-ups declined to accept a salary increase of 4% over the course of two years during the month of April in 2023.

Ever since, the leaders of the union have blamed the government for not engaging in discussions. There have been no talks involving Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, and transportation officials since December of 2022.

The conflict has become more perplexing due to the poor financial condition of the train operators of Britain, who are represented by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). They have faced significant difficulties in recuperating financially after the outbreak of the pandemic, which resulted in a massive reduction in passenger numbers.

The transportation system has been struggling with frequent setbacks and annulments, leading to the revocation of Transpennine Express' agreement in the month of May 2023.

The RDG representative expressed regret and apologized for the potential inconvenience that the ASLEF-led strike may cause for commuters.

We are committed to ensuring trains continue to operate and we will collaborate with our fellow industry members to maintain the number of trains running, however, we regret to inform that there will be less frequent train services between April 4th and April 9th. It is advisable that you confirm your travel plans beforehand and stay updated with the latest travel information.

The Tube strikes taking place this month are mainly focused on working conditions rather than a wider national issue. Aslef, the train driver's union, is worried about changes to previous agreements and working hours. Some news reports have highlighted the concern of tiredness among drivers on the London Underground.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) states that on average, train and tram drivers earn around £60,000 per year.

According to the data from ONS, the typical payment received by workers within the railway industry amounted to £45,919 for the year 2022.

Train operators receive a starting salary of approximately £58,000. Nonetheless, they have the potential to earn considerably more due to a pension plan that is uncommon.

AJ Bell's analysis has reported that if a train operator works until the age of 65, starting from the age of 21, they can accumulate a pension worth approximately £42,500 annually, even with no increments in their salary.

This piece will be revised as fresh information becomes available.

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