Further strike blow for rail firm in pensions row

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TWO more days of strike action have been announced by drivers working for Sheffield to London rail operator East Midlands Trains.

Six one-day walkouts have already been held by members of the ASLEF trade union in protest at changes to pensions.

Train crew, guards and maintenance workers were also set to walkout but were offered an improved deal by management and cancelled their action.

The new strikes called by ASLEF will be on Saturday, June 23, and again on Monday, June 25.

An ASLEF spokesman said: “EMT has decided to cut the amount of money going into our pension scheme – thus saving the company £2.1 million between now and the next valuation.

“The scheme becomes cheaper. And ‘cheaper’ inevitably means ‘worse’. Our pensions are our security in retirement. We have paid for them ever since we began work. We can’t sit and watch them being devalued.”

David Horne, managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We know that our passengers will be extremely angry to hear that the ASLEF union is planning to cause further unnecessary disruption.

“Both the RMT and Unite unions have recommended acceptance of the same updated pensions proposals we offered to ASLEF. “ASLEF also accepted the same pension contribution changes at two other rail companies.”

He added: “Our drivers have already lost £1,200 through six days of pointless strike action. We expect they will also be unhappy to hear that union leaders have called further strike action without re-balloting members.”

East Midlands Trains said it will run some services on strike days.

Last time the strikes happened, East Midlands Trains ran around half of its normal Sheffield to London service. Its Liverpool to Norwich trains, one of two main services between Sheffield and Manchester, did not run.

The RMT says its action is suspended while it asks members to vote on EMT’s offer which it has recommended for approval.