ASLEF members at Northern Rail have voted to take strike action over pay. The result was 82.2% voting Yes on an 82% turnout.
The union met the company's management on 17 November, where the company offered a further 0.3% in year one of the deal, plus commitments on "retention" talks for drivers. On 18 November, as Off The Rails went to press the union's Executive Committee had resolved to hold a referendum on this offer, with full details promised with the voting paper.
This seems an odd choice for the union leadership to make, rather than rejecting what is still a measly increase with a very strong strike mandate backing them up. It is especially worrying in the context of ASLEF's recent history - it tends not to put pay deals out for referendum unless it is recommending acceptance.
The referendum closes on 8 December, just three days before the expiry of the strike mandate, meaning ASLEF will need to notify Northern of a strike by 4 December, before voting closes, or be forced into holding another strike ballot.
RMT, the union representing the majority of non-drivers at Northern, has put the company's previous offer (2.7% in 2014, 2.5% or RPI in 2015) to a referendum of its members, with the message that their reps "strongly [recommend]" acceptance.
This is a worryingly conservative approach for the union to take, especially when they will almost certainly face massive job cuts after the new Northern Rail and Transpennine Express franchises are agreed in 2016.