The planned industrial action follows confirmation by East Midlands Trains that pension contributions for employees will reduce from July, following recommendations from an independent pension valuation. ASLEF’s stance is to maintain the higher pension contribution rates, which would see train drivers paying around £500 a year more than they need to, for no additional benefits.
Train drivers belonging to the ASLEF union have voted in favour of taking strike action on 1, 3, 8, 10, 15 and 17 May.
David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “Pension contributions made by our employees will reduce from July this year. This is good news for our staff and will have no impact on their pension benefits. It follows recommendations from a recent pension valuation, which is an independent financial health check on the scheme. We have written to our employees to explain the forthcoming changes and the background.
“It makes ASLEF’s stance difficult to understand and we are surprised that our train drivers are planning to take industrial action over this matter. We cannot see how ASLEF’s demands, to continue with higher pension contributions when they are not required, are in the best interests of their members. We know that elsewhere in the rail industry, and in other sectors, employees are being asked to contribute more towards their pension schemes, but this is not the case at East Midlands Trains. It really is good news for our people that the joint contributions are reducing for all of our employees, and for drivers this will save them around £500 a year.
“What ASLEF is suggesting would mean employees paying hundreds of pounds a year more into the scheme than is needed for the benefits they receive - particularly at a time everyone in the country is facing a squeeze in living standards. Industrial action would mean employees unnecessarily being even more out of pocket.”
And East Midlands Trains pledged that it would continue to run trains for passengers despite the industrial action. Details of the services available on Tuesday 1, Thursday 3, Tuesday 8, Thursday 10, Tuesday 15 and Thursday 17 May will be updated on the website and will include:
· An hourly service from Derby to London will run for the majority of the day. These services will call at all stations, with some services extended through to Sheffield.
· A train shuttle service will run from Nottingham to Leicester to connect in with services through to London
· A train shuttle service will run from Nottingham to Grantham.
· Rail replacement road services will also be provided on a number of routes and other train operators will be accepting East Midlands Trains tickets.
David Horne continued: “Despite this action being called, we are still determined to run a good train service for our passengers and full details of the timetable are available at www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk.”
The train operator has also issued advice for passengers already holding a ticket to travel on one of the days affected by the industrial action:
· Passengers with advance tickets pre-booked for a service which will not be running can use their ticket to travel on an alternative train or bus service provided by East Midlands Trains.
· Alternatively, passengers who hold a ticket for travel on one of the affected days can travel on East Midlands Trains services the day before or the day after their existing ticket is valid.
· Customers who decide not to travel can receive a full refund on their ticket.
Further advice on alternative routes will be updated on the website.