New overtime ban leads to further train disruptions – BBC News

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Train drivers in Aslef’s union have announced a new overtime ban, which will further disrupt services.

Drivers at 15 UK-based rail companies will refuse overtime work from Monday 17 to Saturday 22 July.

This will coincide with a strike action by rail workers in the RMT union which also takes place later this month.

And it follows the current ban on overtime due to pay and conditions disrupting service across the rail network.

Most train companies rely on drivers working overtime to carry out their full schedules, which Aslef says is a consequence of operators not hiring enough people.

Another strike by railroad workers in the RMT union will take place later this month, on 20, 22 and 29 July. Many will reduce their level of service, and passengers are advised to check before travel.

Among the disruptions expected this week:

  • Southwest Railway said it would run a reduced schedule with the first and last few trains cancelled. Services tend to be busier than usual, and passengers headed to the Wimbledon tennis championships are advised to allow extra time for travel
  • Govia Thames link not running Gatwick Express service
  • North advising passengers to expect some services to start later and finish earlier than usual, as well as cancellations on short notice
  • Great Western Railroad expect some changes or cancellations at short notice, and say the Night Riviera Sleeper service won’t be going in any direction until Sunday
  • Chiltern Railroad warned customers to only travel if absolutely essential on Saturdays. His train will not stop at the station near Wembley Stadium, which is hosting the Blur concert

The ‘Westminster problem’

The announcement of the new overtime ban comes after secretary general Aslef Mick Whelan had warned that further industry action was possible.

He told the BBC’s Today program on Monday that the Rail Delivery Group’s latest salary offer, valued at 4% for the second year in a row and linked to reform, was a return to “the Victorian age”.

The long-running wage dispute by machinists centered around union members accepting a deal that would have brought the average machinist’s salary to £65,000. This offer had been rejected by Aslef.

But that will depend on changing work practices, which both employers and the government say are necessary to cut costs and modernize how trains work.

Mr Whelan said the situation was “an ideological problem of Westminster” and claimed unions had no problems in Scotland, Wales, with delivery, the London Underground, Crossrail or Eurostar.

“We did 14 payout deals in the last 12 months. The only place we couldn’t get a payout deal was with the Westminster government,” he added.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said Aslef had rejected a “fair and affordable offer” without making it to its members.

“We asked Aslef to recognize the very real financial challenges facing the industry and work with us to bring a better, more reliable railway with a strong long-term future,” he added.

Meanwhile, the strike action between operators and RMT over wages, work and conditions has been going on for more than a year.

With only 12% of tickets sold from ticket offices according to the RDG, the train company is preparing to move forward with plans to close hundreds of station kiosks.

Under the proposed changes, staff will be moved to the concourse to assist and advise more customers, an RDG spokesperson said.

But RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said last week his union would not “obediently sit by and allow thousands of jobs to be sacrificed or watch disabled and vulnerable passengers be left unable to use rail as a result”.

The union suggested it could take further industry action on the matter.

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