First Capital Connect Strike - Pay talks to reconvene
PUBLISHED: 11:51 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010
RAIL operators First Capital Connect (FCC) were due to reconvene pay talks today (Thursday) in a bid to forestall official strike action by its train drivers. It follows the problems caused by train drivers who are refusing to work overtime and on rest da
RAIL operators First Capital Connect (FCC) were due to reconvene pay talks today (Thursday) in a bid to forestall official strike action by its train drivers.
It follows the problems caused by train drivers who are refusing to work overtime and on rest days which has led to FCC running a severely-truncated service on the Thameslink line for the past week.
The action was taken over the issue of the annual pay rise and the row could escalate into a fully-fledged strike.
FCC confirmed this week that it would be putting an improved offer on the table to officials from rail union ASLEF.
ASLEF spokesman Mick Whelan said his members were furious at being offered a revised two-year deal with a pay freeze this year and a minimum of a three per cent increase next year.
The union is balloting its members for a strike to begin on December 9 and in the meantime FCC has had to introduce a revised timetable with only around 50 per cent of its Thameslink services running which came into force a week ago.
Problems started when an intensive programme of training began in March to familiarise drivers with new trains coming on stream.
Rather than employ more drivers, FCC relied on its staff to cover with the drivers filling in by working on their rest days and offering to do overtime.
St Albans MP Anne Main, who wants the Transport Secretary to meet urgently with FCC to discuss whether they are in breach of their franchise, demanded action in Parliament last week
A subsequent letter to stakeholders from FCC maintained they had recruited 20 more drivers whose training would not finish until the spring.
FCC confirmed to Mrs Main that there were 10 drivers ready to start training with another 10 joining soon but the MP said that was not good enough.
She said: "The drivers have got FCC over a barrel. You can't run a train service without enough drivers; they should never have put themselves in this position."
FCC has agreed to pay compensation if a train is delayed by 30 minutes or more in line with the old timetable and not the new one. And currently passengers on the Thameslink line can use first class carriages which have been declassified and their tickets will be accepted on other rail routes and London buses and underground.