Train drivers are to strike on 1 and 3 February after their union rejected a pay offer, Aslef announced.
The conditional two-year pay offer worth 8% to the Aslef union – made in the first week of January – by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on behalf of operators included a 4% pay rise for 2022 and a further 4% increase covering 2023.
“If accepted, the proposal would mean the base salary for the average driver would increase from £60,000, to almost £65,000 by the end of 2023”, the RDG had said.
The conditions attached to the proposed hikes included new Sunday working arrangements but also promised no compulsory redundancies until April 2024.
A statement had said: “The offer is contingent on common sense, vital and long overdue changes to working arrangements across the industry.
“Many of these are already best practice in parts of the railway and are designed to avoid disruptive gaps in services.”
The offer was made amid a separate, and more lengthy dispute, between Network Rail and train operators involving the RMT union which had already rejected a similar offer to resolve their pay fight.
Government and the industry has argued that any settlement must be affordable in the new reality facing the railways – with passenger numbers still well below their pre-pandemic peaks.
Before the deal was rejected, Steve Montgomery, chairman of the RDG, said of the terms offered to Aslef members: “This is a fair and affordable offer in challenging times, providing a significant uplift in salary for train drivers while bringing in common-sense and long-overdue reforms that would drive up reliability for passengers and allow the railway to adapt to changed travel patterns.
“With taxpayers still funding up to an extra £175m a month to make up the shortfall in revenue post-COVID, these changes are also vital for us to be able to fund the pay rise our people deserve.
“Instead of staging yet more damaging strike action and holding back changes that will improve services, we urge Aslef to work with us to bring an end to the dispute for our people, our passengers and the future of Britain’s railways.”