Belfast Telegraph

Train drivers plan to strike again

Train drivers are to strike on the day of the Wales v Ireland Six Nations rugby game, threatening travel chaos for fans.

Aslef said its members at Arriva Trains Wales will walk out for 24 hours on March 12 after the failure of talks aimed at resolving a long-running row over pay and conditions.

General secretary Keith Norman said: "The company came up with an improved offer but refused to allow the union to ballot on it. They insisted that they wanted an immediate - undemocratic - response or they would withdraw the revised offer.

"We asked to be allowed to put it to our members, but they refused. As a democratic organisation, we could not accept that we break our own rules or deny our members a voice. Given the company's reluctance to change the position and the unacceptability of their previous offer, we have little choice but to take further action."

The drivers went on strike on Monday and are banning overtime, which threatens disruption to services over the weekend.

Arriva Trains Wales said it was "extremely disappointed" by the new strike threat, adding that it had had made a "substantial" offer that had been improved several times. The offer was worth more than 12% over two years, bringing drivers' pay to £39,117 for a 35-hour, four-day average week.

The company said it had made detailed plans for the rugby, including additional services to cater for thousands of additional passengers who are likely to be travelling by train to and from the event in Cardiff.

Peter Leppard, operations and safety director, said: "It is extremely concerning that Aslef have decided to announce a strike specifically designed to cause major disruption and damage not only to trains services but also to the wider public and the reputation of Wales.

"We are continuing to do everything we can to bring this situation to a resolution. We apologise that this strike will cause considerable inconvenience to thousands of passengers who wish to travel to Cardiff and it is unlikely that we will be able to run any services.

"We urge Aslef to suspend their action immediately and accept this generous pay offer. Channels of communication remain open and we are continuing to do everything we can to bring this situation to a resolution."

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