Rail operator’s owner First Group profits up to £654m but workers offered nothing

Around 350 Great Western Railway (GWR) engineers will strike on 1 October over pay, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Tuesday 27 September).

They will join thousands of rail workers across the country striking on the same day.

Despite GWR’s parent company First Group, which is based in Aberdeen, making pre-tax profits of £654 million in 2021/22, the company is refusing to offer the workers a pay rise. It will be the third year in a row their pay has been frozen. Meanwhile the real rate of inflation, RPI, is at 12.3 per cent.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “For years, the wages of our Great Western Railway members have failed to keep up. With rocketing prices, the value of their pay is now falling even further behind. Great Western Railway and its owners First Group can absolutely afford to pay a decent rise – it is simply unacceptable that they are refusing to do so while sitting on such enormous profits. They need to put forward an offer that reflects the rising cost of living for GWR workers.” 

The striking workers are based at depots and stations in London, Exeter, Tiverton, Plymouth, Swindon, Swansea, Reading, Penzance, Oxford and Bristol. If the dispute is not resolved then more strikes will be scheduled. 

Unite regional officer John McGookin said: “Any disruption to Great Western Railways' services will be entirely the fault of the company for failing to put forward a pay rise. They must come back with an acceptable offer.”

ENDS

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.