Union boss explodes at 'CORRUPT DEAL' as he blames Tories for pay dispute

Mick Whelan said the 'immoral' deal helped rail companies 'keep their snouts in the trough'

Published

A union boss has called out a “corrupt deal” between rail companies and the government, blaming the Conservatives for the ongoing industrial action.

Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, has said his union members have not asked for a pay rise for four years, including during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the railway companies making a profit.

Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan spoke to GB News outside London Euston station
Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan spoke to GB News outside London Euston station

This comes as rail services are being crippled by a third consecutive day of industrial action, with about 12,500 train drivers from 15 companies striking over pay across the country on Thursday, following a 48-hour picket by the RMT.

Speaking at London’s Euston station beside several striking train drivers, Whelan told GB News that the Government had not shown union leaders details of a £2,000 annual increase reportedly offered to train drivers, and accused rail companies of doing a “corrupt and immoral deal” with ministers by taking profits while refusing to give train drivers a pay rise for four years.

Speaking to GB News, Whelan said: “The big sticking point is like many other workers rail workers went to work during the pandemic. We did not seek a pay rise during the pandemic… They made £500million in the pandemic. Good luck to them.

“When the cost-of-living crisis started to hit, and inflation rising in year three, we went to our employers and said we need a pay rise we found out they’d done a rather immoral and corrupt deal with the government to keep their snouts in the trough. They couldn’t offer more than two percent.

“We’ve never been offered that two percent over the four years. They told us we had to talk to government. So we went to the government, and they said we can’t get involved with negotiations, go and talk to the employers.

“We’re now into year four without a pay offer.

Due to strikes on Thursday, only 20 percent of trains are running, and several stations, including Birmingham New Street – the busiest in the country outside of London – had zero trains running.

Rail links to the UK’s two biggest airports have also been cut, with Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express shutting down.

Members of the Aslef Union picket at New Street station in Birmingham, in a long-running dispute over jobs and pensions. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.
Members of the Aslef Union picket at New Street station in Birmingham, in a long-running dispute over jobs and pensions. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.

Operators which have cancelled all of their Thursday services include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Northern, Southern, Southeastern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express.

Areas where trains are running on Thursday include: Wales; the Central Belt, Fife and the Borders of Scotland; and parts of the South Western Railway network.

Services will also operate on London Overground and the Elizabeth line.

The RMT is staging another 48-hour strike from Friday in its bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, and the union’s general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that industrial action will continue beyond May unless a reasonable offer is made.

New TUC leader Paul Nowak has written to the Prime Minister calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the industrial disputes including those on the railways, in the NHS and the civil service and called for a change in Government direction, saying ministers should open pay negotiations with unions.

Rishi Sunak has said that his Government’s door is always open for dialogue.

Talks are due to be held next week in another attempt to find a settlement.