Wales

No more money to avert strike, says Arriva Trains Wales

Arriva Trains Wales says it will not make an improved pay offer to its staff to avoid a strike later this month.

Aslef union members will walk out for 24 hours on Monday 28 February.

The rail company said it would meet the union for talks next week but it had already improved its offer several times and it could not go any further.

Aslef said the strike was not just over pay but also working conditions and it hoped "common sense" would prevail and the company would negotiate.

Arriva said it had offered a 12% pay rise over two years but the figure has been disputed.

The train operator said the offer would take a train driver's basic salary to £39,117.

The company's operations and safety director Peter Leppard told BBC Radio's Good Morning Wales: "They are going down a blind alley.

"We have been negotiating this matter now for nine months - we have improved the offer several times.

"It cannot go any further - they know that - they've been told very clearly that."

He said as part of the deal drivers would no longer be able to choose whether or not to work Sundays.

"We are not changing the number of Sundays that drivers work - we are saying if it is your Sunday you must work it," he added.

"No-one in the current climate is going to get a 12% pay rise without something attached to it."

Arriva Trains Wales launched legal proceedings to avert a planned strike by the RMT union on the day of the Six Nations rugby clash between Wales and England earlier this month.

Mr Leppard said it was action they may try to take again.

"We always, if faced with an industrial action threat, look to see if that might be a possibility but we only had the documentation from Aslef yesterday [Thursday] afternoon."

Aslef district organiser Stan Moran said 70% of its members working for Arriva Trains Wales voted in favour of strikes on an 80% turnout.

"These drivers have overwhelmingly voted against any offer that the company has made," he said.

"We are meeting with Arriva on Tuesday next week. We always have to think positive. Our members have voted so we have to try and please the membership.

"You never know what we can to do resolve the issue. We'll talk, we're always willing to talk and hopefully we'll resolve it."

Mr Moran said it was not all about getting a better deal than the current pay rise offer.

"It's all about conditions, it's not the money, and there's other things as well involved."

Mr Moran defended the train driver salary of £39,000 and said it was far behind pay in England.

"A loaf of bread is the same price anywhere in the country," he added.

He said he was "very optimistic" about the outcome of the talks and he said that previous disputes had always been resolved through "common sense".

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