London Marathon and Tory Conference set to be hit by railway strikes | Economic news

Dates have been announced for upcoming rail strikes in the UK, which are expected to disrupt both the London Marathon and the Conservative Party Conference.

Train drivers from 12 operators will take their pay off on Saturday October 1 and again on Wednesday October 5, the Aslef union has announced.

The first strike comes just a day before the London Marathon, when tens of thousands of runners – many raising money for charity – descend on the capital.

The Conservative Conference will also be impacted, as it begins on October 2 and ends on the second day of the strikes.

The new dates were revealed after a planned strike last week was called off as a mark of respect for the Queen.

The services concerned were:

• Avanti west coast
• Chiltern Railways
• Cross country
• Greater Anglia
• Great Western Railway
• Undercarriages
• LNER
• London Overground
• Northern Trains
• South East
• TransPennine Express
• West Midlands Trains

The union warned it was for the “long term”, in line with other unions in dispute with employers on the rail network.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions have yet to reach a resolution of their own grievances, which also include job security and working conditions.

Strikes have spread from the rail network this summer to industries from the Royal Mail to port works.

Every union is fighting for wage increases that will help its members fight off the worst of the pressure from the cost of living crisis.

The inflation rate stands at 9.9% but is expected to return to double digits over the next few months as winter approaches despite government aid for housework and Company energy bills.

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said: “We would much rather not be in this position. We don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing from your job, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for this union – but the railroads are determined to force our hand.

“They’re telling train drivers to cut their wages in real terms. With inflation now at 12.3% – and said to be set to rise further – these companies say drivers should be prepared to work just as hard, for as long, but for much less.

“The companies we are in dispute with have not offered us a penny. It is outrageous that they expect us to accept a pay cut in real terms for the third year in a row.”

As well as the travel disruptions facing the Tory conference, the prospect of taking a train to Labour’s annual meeting – in Liverpool this year – is also fraught with uncertainty.

Ongoing staff shortages at Avanti West Coast have forced the under-fire operator to cut schedules, and schedules will not be released until days before the event begins.

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