After disrupting rail travel throughout much of last year, train strikes have continued into 2023.
Trade unions have been calling for better pay for their members amid the cost of living crisis, with inflation at still more than 10 per cent, but negotiations are yet to reach a conclusion.
Train drivers represented by the Aslef and Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) unions walked out on Wednesday and Friday last week, shutting down roughly 70 per cent of the rail network.
There are currently no further rail strike dates scheduled, but union leaders have warned the action is set to continue for months. Here is everything you need to know.
Will there be more rail strikes?
Unions chiefs have insisted they are prepared to continue taking industrial action until pay deals are agreed with rail bosses.
The RMT has a mandate to run strikes until the end of May, and the union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, has said another ballot allowing strikes to extend until November is a “possibility”.
However, the union is currently considering an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) – which represents the train companies – in its dispute involving maintenance and station staff.
The offer includes a 9 per cent pay rise, which could be enough to bring an end to the dispute. Mr Lynch said the union has made no decision on the proposal and would provide an update in due course.
Speaking outside Euston station last week, Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, told i the drivers’ strike will “go on for as long as it takes to get a resolution”.
Aslef’s assistant general secretary, Simon Weller, added: “He hopes to get it resolved before he retires and he retires in three years’ time.”
When asked whether a deal between RMT and the train companies could put pressure on Aslef to reach an agreement, Mr Weller said: “No, is the short answer. They are completely different disputes.
“The deal that they’re proposing with the RMT covers many many grades and changes to some working that they are agreeing to, what we’ve had as a proposal is an absolute non-runner.
“So actually I think we’re further away than we were at Christmas.”
Why are rail workers striking?
The unions are fighting for pay offers more in line with inflation, as well as assurances over railway reforms.
The RDG said its latest offer to drivers includes a backdated pay rise of at least 9 per cent over two years (5 per cent or £1,750, whichever is higher for 2022, plus 4 per cent for 2023), with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until 31 December, 2024.
However, it also came with new working arrangements, including changes to Sunday schedules.
Mr Whelan said: “The proposal is not and could not ever be acceptable, but we are willing to engage in further discussions within the process that we previously agreed.
“Not only is the offer a real-terms pay cut, with inflation running north of 10 per cent, but it came with so many conditions attached that it was clearly unacceptable.
“They want to rip up our terms and conditions in return for a real-terms pay cut. It was clearly a rushed offer, made just before our meeting with the minister – and not one, it seems to me, that was designed to be accepted.
“Our members at these companies have not had an increase since 2019, despite soaring inflation, and it is time the companies – encouraged, perhaps, by the Government – sat down with us and got serious.
“That is the way – and the only way – to end this dispute.”
A spokesperson for the RDG said: “Having made an initial offer which would have taken average driver salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000, we had hoped the Aslef leadership would engage constructively to move talks forward, rather than staging more unnecessary strikes. We can only apologise for the disruption.”