Rail strikes could drag on until summer as ministers prepare to go to war with ... trends now

Rail strikes could drag on until summer as ministers prepare to go to war with ... trends now
Rail strikes could drag on until summer as ministers prepare to go to war with ... trends now

Rail strikes could drag on until summer as ministers prepare to go to war with ... trends now

Ministers are preparing to go to war with the train drivers' union, meaning rail strikes could drag on until the summer.

Sources told the Daily Mail that government officials and industry chiefs found Mick Whelan – boss of train drivers' union Aslef – 'deeply unpleasant' in recent meetings.

Ministers are understood to be prepared to fight it out publicly for months with Aslef, which claims average driver salaries of £60,000 are not enough. 

By contrast, they are said to find the RMT rail union boss Mick Lynch more amenable and are keen to avoid a public slanging match to clinch a deal.

Sources told the Daily Mail that government officials and industry chiefs found Mick Whelan (pictured) – boss of train drivers' union Aslef – 'deeply unpleasant' in recent meetings

Sources told the Daily Mail that government officials and industry chiefs found Mick Whelan (pictured) – boss of train drivers' union Aslef – 'deeply unpleasant' in recent meetings

Mr Lynch yesterday raised the prospect of walkouts dragging on until May, when the RMT's current strike mandate expires, as 40,000 of his members walked out for the first of two 48-hour strikes this week.

But he also said a deal was possible within 'the next few days', while Network Rail's chief negotiator said an agreement was potentially within 'touching distance'.

New details emerged showing the offer on the table is worth 14 per cent over two years for the lower paid among Mr Lynch's members – 2.5 per cent a year higher than what most nurses have been offered.

Aslef's mandate lasts until the end of June, meaning rail strikes look almost certain to drag on until then even if the separate RMT disputes are resolved.

A source close to the negotiations said: 'Ministers are prepared to have a fight with Aslef. 

Mick Whelan is deeply unpleasant and his members already get a good deal.' It came as business chiefs yesterday hit out at the RMT for turning city centres into 'ghost towns' on the day workers should have been flocking back after the festive period.

Many opted to work from home instead in a fresh blow to firms who suffered from lower footfall during the RMT's pre-Christmas strikes.

Figures showed passenger footfall yesterday at 20 major stations managed by Network Rail, such as London Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, was the lowest

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