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All ATW services brought to a halt by 24-hour strike

All Arriva Trains Wales services have been cancelled by a 24-hour strike today as a result of disputes around pay and conditions between the operator and rail unions RMT and Aslef.

The closure of all services may also have a knock-on disruption effect on early morning trains tomorrow (5 January).

According to the unions, the operator has not put out a new offer to its staff despite company claims that union members had rejected the “latest offer of improvements to terms, conditions and pay” made on 23 December.

Claiming that Arriva is trying to “railroad through” offer changes, Aslef’s national organiser, Simon Weller, who is leading negotiations for the drivers, said: “The company has not made a new offer. It has sent us a form of words. But it is not new and it is not an offer.”

Arriva’s HR director, Gareth Thomas, said today’s strike was “extremely disappointing”, adding in a statement: “We deeply regret this disruption and continue to do all we can to avert strike action, however we are advising customers to make alternative travel arrangements for Monday 4 January and to check their travel plans for Tuesday morning, 5 January.

“An indefinite train driver overtime ban is also currently in force, which may impact some timetabled services until the dispute is resolved.

“Directors at [Arriva Trains Wales] have been in contact almost every day with union officials in a bid to resolve this issue and stress the urgency of the situation if disruption to customers was to be avoided.”

Given that the strike action impacted the entire network, the operator was not able to provide replacement bus services.

RMT’s general secretary, Mick Cash, saluted union members for “standing rock solid” and “shoulder to shoulder” with each other during action this morning.

“This strike is about basic workplace justice and decent working conditions and it is down to the company to recognise the anger amongst the workforce shown this morning and to meet with the unions for genuine and meaningful talks on the issues in dispute,” he added.

All sides had initially indicated a compromise had been reached during talks in early November, but these broke down once again as a result of an email sent to Aslef suggesting that staff could work longer hours in “special circumstances”.

The union then decided to re-ballot members, with strike action backed by over 80% of its members – especially amid fears that ‘special circumstances’ would frequently come about as a result of engineering works and sporting events.

(Photo, top, by mattbuck)


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