FA Cup Final hit with fresh rail strike as Manchester fans face disruption getting to London
The FA Cup Final and Eurovision Song Contest will be disrupted as ASLEF train drivers’ union today announced a series of 24-hour strikes.
The 24-hour strikes will take place on Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May, and Saturday 3 June, which coincide with FA cup final between Manchester United and City, the last of the strike days.
The strikes could see major disruption for fans travelling from the north-west to see two Manchester clubs play in the final. 16 train operators will be affected including Avanti West Coast, which runs lines between Manchester and London.
The strikes are likely to stop almost all trains at the companies involved, which will also impact revellers heading to the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.
It is expected that fans looking to get to these major events will be looking for alternatives, including coach companies and car-sharing, but parking around Wembley is difficult.
This comes after the RMT threatened wildcat strikes after disagreements over the new minimum service levels law. This week, the Epsom Derby was moved to avoid a clash with the FA Cup Final.
There have been instances of industrial action on the railways for the last year, as the cost of living crisis has eaten into workers’ real-term wages.
Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said that the union was rejecting a ‘risible’ pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group, which comprises 16 train operating companies.
He added: “The proposal – of just four per cent – was clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10% and our members at these companies have not had an increase for four years.”
Talks have been ongoing over the last year, since the Union first balloted members for industrial action in June.
Whelan added: “We do not want to go on strike – we do not want to inconvenience passengers, we have families and friends who use the railway, too, and we believe in investing in rail for the future of this country – but the blame for this action lies, fairly and squarely, at the feet of the employers who have forced our hand over this by their intransigence.”
“It is now up to them to come up with a more sensible, and realistic, offer and we ask the government not to hinder this process.”
Rail Delivery Group Spokesperson said: “This is disappointing news for our customers and staff, more strike action is totally unnecessary and will only heap more pressure on an industry already facing an acute financial crisis.
“Senselessly targeting both the final of Eurovision and the FA cup final is disappointing for all those planning to attend.”
“After many weeks of negotiations with the ASLEF leadership today, we made a revised and fair offer including a pay rise of 8% over two years. It would have introduced overdue, common-sense improvements already in place in parts of the network, which would will see more trains running on time for passengers. Sadly, this has been rejected.”
“We urge the ASLEF leadership to re-join us at the negotiating table and work with us to find a solution to the issues our industry faces and so we can give our people the pay rise we have always said we wanted to do.”
RMT joins ASLEF in strike action
Just hours after ASLEF set strike fresh dates, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said its members had rejected the latest pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group.
As a result, it called a 24-hour strike on Saturday 13 May – the day of the Eurovision final, which will be held in Liverpool.
Lynch said RDG had “reneged on their original proposals and torpedoed these negotiations. No doubt their decision is due to pressure exerted on them by the Tory government.”
“Therefore, we have no alternative but to press ahead with more strike action and continue our campaign for a negotiated settlement on pay, conditions and job security.”
The announcement means that train operators will now be affected on four days in May and June.