Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

London train and Overground strikes in October: everything you need to know

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Photograph: © Andy Parsons

There’s another strike confirmed affecting London’s commuters on October 1, 5 and 8 – here are the details.

In yet another blow for London’s long-suffering commuters, train drivers have announced more strikes on October 1, 5 and 8. It comes after talks between train drivers’ union Aslef, transport union Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and rail companies across the UK broke down amid a dispute over pay.

Only about 11 percent of services will run on October 1, Network Rail said, with backup staff running a skeleton service. The rail industry is advising passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary on strike days. 

Train drivers in Aslef and signallers and crew in the RMT union will walk out for 24 hours on 1 October at the start of the Conservative conference. They will be joined by members of the TSSA at Network Rail and 11 train operating companies. Some Network Rail power-supply staff in Unite will also strike.

On October 5, Aslef members will walk out. 

Furthermore, more than 40,000 workers who are members of RMT from Network Rail and 15 train operators will strike on October 8. The union has described the day as ‘effectively shutting down the railway network’. 

October’s industrial action comes after a series of strikes in August and September that have affected transport in the capital, including trains, tubes, the London Overground and buses. Train companies across the rest of the UK will also be affected by the action.

What is this dispute about?

Basically, it’s the cost-of-living crisis again. With inflation running at more than 10 percent, and set to rise, pay offers of 2 or 3 percent won’t cut it anymore. Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We want the companies – which are making big profits, and paying their chief executives enormous salaries and bonuses – to make a proper pay offer to help our members keep up with the increase in the cost of living.’ Still, according to the BBC, train drivers on average earn nearly £60,000 a year, much more than the UK average salary.  

Which London train lines will be affected?

Only about 11 percent of services will run on October 1, Network Rail said. The strikes on October 1 and 5 will affect several lines serving London across Network Rail: LNER, Southeastern, Avanti West Coast, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, GTR (including Gatwick Express as well as Network Rail) and London Overground. The only London-based transport affected will be the London Overground.

The tube and TfL services are not involved in this particular strike, but their services will be busier as a result of people seeking alternative routes.

Will the tube in London be affected?

No. Because the strike has been called by Aslef, the train drivers’ union, and RMT, the transport sector union, London Underground services will not be suffering on October 1, 5 or 8. 

Are more strikes planned for London?

Yes. On October 4, 2,000 bus drivers are going to strike across 46 bus routes indefinitely, meaning we don’t know when it’ll end. These bus strikes are separate and led by Unite and Arriva unions, with drivers striking over pay. 

This is unlikely to be the end of the current climate of UK industrial action. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is seeing workers in all spheres getting poorer and poorer as inflation outstrips any pay increases. Any breakthrough in talks to prevent the most intense disruption to date appears less likely after chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced the mini-budget on Friday September 23.

Even if companies do keep up with inflation, it might not help, with the Bank of England warning of the possibility of an ‘inflationary spiral’, in which businesses – including transport providers – transfer the cost of pay rises to customers, further heating the economy and driving inflation. So more strikes on the tube, trains and Overground look likely through the rest of the year and beyond.

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By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use caalaadd2@gmail.com as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of www.ethiopianstoday.com.

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