Staff strike at First TransPennine

Rail passengers travelling on First TransPennine services are expected to face disruption to their journeys today and Friday after a train drivers strike was confirmed.

Two 24-hour industrial actions are planned by First TransPennine staff following a dispute over pay.

First TransPennine Express runs services between Manchester, Liverpool, the Lake District, York, Leeds, Doncaster, Sheffield and the North East.

A total of 300 First TransPennine Express staff are represented by the train drivers' union Aslef, which said over 91% voted to back strike action.

Nicky Whitehead, who is from Aslef and is the official leading negotiations with First TransPennine Express, argued company's management turned down a union offer to continue talks.

Whitehead said: "I am appalled at the way that managers slammed the door shut after talks this morning. We felt we were making progress and offered to continue the talks. They said no. We offered to suspend the action and involve the conciliation service ACAS. They said no. In view of this brick wall style of negotiation, I regret to say that the dispute will now go ahead."

First TransPennine Express said: "We are disappointed that our driver colleagues represented by ASLEF and RMT have voted in favour of industrial action. They have informed us that they intend to strike from 00:01 to 23:59 on Wednesday 24th August and 00:01 to 23:59 on Friday 26th August.

"We remain hopeful that a solution can be found and we would urge the representing unions to join us in further discussions."

Transport for Greater Manchester said in a statement on Tuesday that services provided by other train operators will not be disrupted by the industrial action, but the demand for their services may be higher.

Transport union RMT, which represents 350 conductors and station staff grades at First TransPennine Express, said it will be suspending strikes after the company offered a "significantly improved" pay offer.

The new offer, of 3.5% backdated to April and a further 1.5% from September 11, adding up to a 5% increase on the year, will be considered by company council reps next week.

Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: "This offer is a significant improvement on the 2.2 per cent and the RMT executive has today suspended action by conductors and station grades so that it can be considered by our company council reps.

"There is no doubt whatever that this improved offer has been tabled only because our members threatened strike action, and they are to be congratulated for standing firm, and the final decision will quite rightly rest with them."

Rail passengers are advised to plan their journey by checking the First TransPennine Express website here for more information. An amended timetable is in operation.

TfGM added that although the strike does not involve bus operators or Metrolink, demand for these services may be higher than usual during the strike.

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I can’t see any justification for this dispute, ASLEF must be on a different planet to reject a 5% pay deal.

By Anon 1

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