Train services in the UK have now been affected by strikes for over a year, and the union disputes show little sign of coming to an end.
Rail travellers most recently faced disruption with two days of strikes on Friday 1 September and Saturday 2 September, involving the Aslef drivers’ union and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT respectively.
No further train strikes are currently planned for September, although there will be walkouts hitting other services, such as NHS doctors and regional bus services – but will there be more in the future?
Will there be more RMT train strikes?
Ahead of its strike on 2 September, the RMT said that it had received a reply from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to a “roadmap” it had suggested to break the deadlock in its long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
General secretary Mick Lynch said: “After a week, the RDG has formally responded to our initiative to try and reach a negotiated settlement to the national dispute.
“While it is encouraging that the train operating companies want to continue dialogue with us next week, a fresh proposal will be needed to progress this dispute towards a settlement.
“Their most recent proposal has been rejected and we will have to try and see if we can find a way forward.”
Mr Lynch confirmed that in the meantime “our industrial campaign will continue until reach a negotiated settlement”, so passengers with the 14 train companies covered by the strikes can expect more walkouts to come.
On 4 May, the union – which is the biggest representing rail workers – confirmed that its members had voted to renew the RMT’s strike mandate for a further six months.
Unions involved in disputes have to re-ballot their members every six months to legally continue with strikes and other forms of action.
Later that month, RMT members who work on the London Underground confirmed they would extend their own strike mandate for another six months, until mid-November.
A spokesperson for the RDG said that the walkouts were “deliberately designed” to cause disruption to passengers.
They added: “This, despite the RMT having repeatedly refused their memberships a vote on offers of up to 13% for the lowest paid over two years, which could easily settle this dispute.”
Will there be more train drivers’ strikes?
When it staged its own strike a day earlier, the Aslef union was equally bullish about the prospect of staging further train strikes.
Its general secretary Mick Lynch told the PA news agency: “The feedback we get – and we talk to drivers every day – is that they’re in it for the long haul.
“You’ve got to remember some of our members, when we get to the end of this year, will be five years without a pay rise, so there’s no sign of any weakening or any lack of resolve, and our members in many cases want to go harder and faster.”
Indeed, he confirmed that he does not currently see an end point to the row: “This is purely a political response to the dispute. Only when the ministers take the reins off the train operating companies will this get resolved.”
Robert Nisbet, spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said Aslef must show “movement” on changes to working practices.
Asked why no talks have been held between the RDG and Aslef since April, Mr Nisbet told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Because they will not accept that core principle.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “There remains fair and reasonable offers on the table for both unions, one which would bring the average train driver’s salaries up to £65,000 and one which RMT members working for Network Rail accepted months ago.
“Continued industrial action is disappointing and delays the reforms that would ultimately benefit passengers, rail workers and taxpayers.”
Additional reporting from Press Association