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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 20:12 GMT
Train drivers threaten new Arriva row
Newcastle station at morning rush hour on Thursday, 24 January, 2002
Northern stations were empty during the two-day strike
Drivers from Arriva trains may heap further misery on commuters by staging a fresh wave of walk-outs

The union Aslef is planning to ballot its members over strike action in a dispute over three drivers who have been demoted.

Arriva said the trio broke safety rules but the union maintains they were treated unfairly.

The row has blown up a week after the company's trains were brought to a standstill when guards in the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out in a pay dispute.

We think the disciplinary procedures have not been properly followed

Aslef spokesman

It led to most of Arriva's 1,600 services across the north of England being cancelled for 48-hours.

A union spokesman said the union was in discussions with Arriva in the hope of averting any strikes.

"We are taking up the cases of three Arriva workers. We think the disciplinary procedures have not been properly followed."

He warned the strike ballot could mean driver strikes before the end of February.

Meanwhile, a strike by staff at Arriva is to go ahead next week after talks between the company and the RMT broke down.

Company management met RMT members in York on Wednesday in an attempt to try and resolve a dispute over pay for conductors.

Arriva said some progress was made at the talks but not enough to settle the dispute.

The 48-hour strike will begin on 5 February.

Members of the RMT are calling for closer wage parity between guards and train drivers.

Clerks' dispute

Administrative staff from the company are also threatening stoppages as they press for more pay.

The Transport and Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) has told Arriva of its intention to ballot its station and ticket office staff members for industrial action.

The union claims its staff earn less than half the current salary of train drivers - and that itself is said to be well below the pay of many other train companies.

Strike costs

Steve Coe, TSSA's Negotiations Officer, said: "It is regrettable that we are having to resort to strike action, but the union has been in discussions with the company for more than 18 months without reaching agreement.

"We have now exhausted all other avenues in our efforts to get a fair deal for station and ticket office staff.

"These staff in the company are fed up with being at the bottom of the pile when it comes to pay."

An analyst has estimated that the Arriva strikes alone cost the economy 7m a day.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | England
Further strike for Arriva Trains
24 Jan 02 | England
Commuters stranded by rail strike
29 Jan 02 | England
South West Trains resume services
24 Jan 02 | England
Commuters stranded by rail strike
24 Jan 02 | England
Guards aim for striking impact
24 Jan 02 | England
In pictures: Arriva train strike
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