Sat, 13 May 2023 at 11:47 am BST
Rail passengers will suffer fresh travel chaos on Saturday over pay strikes as a union boss has warned “we are in this for the long haul”.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walkout at 14 train operators across England on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.
Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan revealed there had been no meetings with the Government since early January despite continuing deadlock over the pay row.
“We are in this for the long haul and there will be more strikes,” said Mr Whelan, who joined picket lines in Manchester and Liverpool.
The strike follows action on Friday by train drivers in the Aslef union, which crippled services, with some parts of England having no trains all day.
Mr Whelan said that drivers were prepared to continue taking industrial action until they had a decent pay offer.
Aslef has described an offer of an 8pc wage rise over two years as “risible”.
Mr Whelan added: “The Government seems to think they can starve us back to work, or that we will give up, but that isn’t going to happen.
Aslef has called further stoppages on May 31 and June 3, the day of the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
The Rail Delivery Group said that after many weeks of negotiations with the Aslef leadership it had made a “revised and fair offer” including a pay rise of 8pc over two years.
A spokesperson said: “It would have introduced overdue, common-sense improvements already in place in parts of the network, which would see more trains running on time for passengers.
“Sadly, this has been rejected.”
Passengers were urged to check before they travel 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: “This strike takes place in the wake of a recent re-ballot of members working for 14 train operating companies which massively re-affirmed a mandate for further strike action.
“Throughout this dispute the Government has tied the hands of the railway companies and prevented them offering a fair deal.
“We are striking so that the employers and government can see the huge anger amongst rail workers is very real and they need to recognise that fact, face reality and make improved proposals.
“We are calling for the rail companies to get around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.”
The RMT pointed out that when it reballoted its members recently there was a “massive” vote to continue taking strike action.
Saturday was chosen for a strike as it was the last date allowed under employment laws, said the union.
There will be more train services on Saturday than on Friday but many companies are restricting their number of routes and hours of operation.