Beds, Herts & Bucks

London Midland disruption feared as drivers refuse overtime

Rail passengers face disruption on Sunday as a result of a dispute between London Midland and train drivers' union Aslef.

Drivers are refusing to work overtime, forcing the company to run a reduced and restricted special timetable.

The company, which operates services across the Midlands, claimed it was being "held to ransom" by the union.

Aslef said the company was to blame for dropping the double-time rate for Sunday work.

London Midland said it had been paying drivers over and above their standard rate to work on Sundays as it continued to negotiate with Aslef on harmonising terms and conditions across the company.

'Unrealistic demands'

It said the arrangement was never long-term and that as negotiations had so far been unsuccessful, it was unsustainable to continue paying this rate.

London Midland said its drivers received about £400 for working each Sunday on top of a basic salary of nearly £40,000 per year.

The company is advising passengers not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Its director of operations and safety, Wallace Weatherill, said: "London Midland is phasing these temporary Sunday arrangements from double time to time-and-a-half over four months to allow families to budget for the change.

"Our drivers do a demanding and highly responsible job, but our disagreement is with Aslef and its unrealistic demands, rather than individual drivers.

"This orchestrated action comes quickly after Aslef's refusal to work Monday to Saturday overtime, and the union position is totally unreasonable."

Aslef said it had never been invited to discuss the issue and that drivers were reacting individually to news that the double-time rate had been dropped.

"I don't see what other reaction the company could expect," says its general secretary Keith Norman.

"They cut the rate of pay and then they are surprised when no one snatches their hand off."

"Aslef has not asked anyone not to work this weekend. But equally I would be surprised if there is a queue to do so."

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