Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan has warned that rail strikes could last until 2026 over the long running bitter dispute over pay and conditions.
The majority of train services were cancelled today due to further industrial action which has seen operators such as Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and Southern not running any trains.
Speaking to LBC Radio Whelan was asked how much longer union members can financially sustain the continuous strikes, he said, “I think we’re in this for the long haul. How long is a piece of string?
“If we don’t get a pay rise for four years, will it be five, will it be six, will it be seven?
“Will it be stupid to stop this now then restart it sometime in the future, because you’d lose any impetus that you’ve gained?”
He said that during the six months of strike action negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) who represents train operators Aslef has made no progress.
He was then asked if a deal could be reached when further talks are held on 7 February, he said, “We want a resolution. My people don’t want to be losing money, they don’t want to be standing out in the cold.”
RDG chairman Steve Montgomery said the continued negotiations with Aslef are “going backwards” and “the talks have not moved on as quickly as we’d like.”
Montgomery told Sky News, “We all understand that we want to give our staff a pay increase, (it’s) naturally important, particularly in these economic climates.
“But drivers’ average wages are £60,000 at this moment. We are offering up to £65,000 over two years. That’s quite a significant increase for people.”
However, Montgomery said that they feel they are “closer to a deal” with the RMT who “are presently consulting their members (on an offer) at this moment in time.”
He added, “What we are seeking from RMT is to put that offer out to a referendum to the members and let them decide whether this offer is acceptable as a best and final (one).
“I’m hopeful that the offer we’ve made will stop the strikes.”