Rail drivers strike threat over shifts

First Transpennine Express

First Transpennine Express

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Train drivers who operate services across the Fylde are to ballot for industrial action today in a row over shifts.

Members of the Aslef and RMT unions are in dispute with First Transpennine Express.

The drivers say that they do not get as many “rest days” as other companies and submitted a request to the firm to bring this in line with others.

However, they say the company responded by offering a £1,000 payment to any driver who would sign up to cover any rest day shifts needed.

An Aslef spokesman said: “We are balloting our members over rest day working after a failure to agree with First Transpennine Express over the number of rest days a year.

“Our members want to get in line with the other train operating companies. However, TPE have been provocative by offering a £1,000 bounty for anyone who will work any rest day the company needs.”

He said many train operating companies rely heavily on their drivers to cover the shifts of others who may be on leave or sick, especially at weekends.

He said some firms were unwilling to train new drivers as it is lengthy and expensive and as a result needed drivers to work their rest days to keep services running.

First Transpennine Express operates services across the country from Blackpool.

It is understood that any ballot process would take two weeks to allow the 370 drivers to vote, with the choice of strike action or action short of a strike which could include refusing to cover rest days which could lead to cancelled services.

A First Transpennine spokesman said: “It is extremely disappointing that Aslef have decided to ballot FTPE drivers for industrial action.

“We have been negotiating for a number of months in an effort to introduce additional service flexibility through offering opportunities for our drivers to earn extra money by working additional shifts.

“We have offered five separate deals which have been discussed and agreed at a local level. Aslef’s executive committee have failed to endorse these offers.

“We remain committed to exploring the potential of introducing a four day working week and have offered at our cost to appoint an independent person to assess its feasibility. That offer...was declined by representatives.”

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