Train drivers at eight rail companies will strike on 30 July in a dispute over pay, their union Aslef has said.
It comes a day after the RMT union said its members at rail operators and Network Rail would walk off the job for 24 hours on 27 July.
Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: “We don’t want to go on strike – strikes are the result of a failure of negotiation – and this union, since I was elected general secretary in 2011, has only ever been on strike, until this year, for a handful of days.
“We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – not least because our friends and families use public transport, too, and we believe in building trust in the railways in Britain – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike.
“But we’ve been forced into this position by the train companies, driven by the Tory government.
“The drivers at the companies where we are striking have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years – since April 2019.
“And these companies are offering us nothing, saying their hands have been tied by the government.
“That means, in real terms, with inflation running ahead at 9%, 10%, and even 11% this year, according to which index you use, that they are being told to take a real terms pay cut. And that is not acceptable.
“Strike action is, now, the only option available but we are always open to talks if the train companies, or the government, want to talk to us and make a fair and sensible offer.”
More strikes at other train companies
Aslef members at eight companies – Arriva Rail London; Chiltern Railways; Greater Anglia; Great Western; Hull Trains; LNER; Southeastern; and West Midlands Trains – will join the strike action on Saturday 30 July.
But Mr Whelan said that drivers at Greater Anglia would also strike on Saturday 23 July and drivers on Hull Trains would also strike on Saturday 16 July and Saturday 23 July.
Further ballots close at Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry on Wednesday 27 July; and at Northern Trains; TransPennine Express; and Transport for Wales on Thursday 25 August, he added.
‘Wage rises aren’t exacerbating inflation – excess profiteering is’
He also denied claims from some politicians that giving workers a pay rise could make inflation worse, during a cost-of-living crisis.
“Wage rises aren’t exacerbating inflation, anyway. Excess profiteering is.
“The government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that, just three days after their ballots closed, Aslef bosses have already opted for destructive strike action, instead of engaging in constructive talks.
“Not only that but, by seemingly co-ordinating strike dates around the Commonwealth Games, it’s clear union bosses are determined to cause as much misery as possible and derail an event the whole country is looking forward to.
“Train drivers, such as those Aslef represent, earn, on average, just under £60,000 – more than twice the UK average and significantly more than the very workers who will be most impacted by these strikes despite stumping up £600 per household to keep the railway running throughout the pandemic.
“Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation to make it work better for passengers and be financially sustainable for the long term.
“I urge union bosses to reconsider this divisive action and instead work worth their employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.”