British rail industry group makes new pay offer to striking train drivers

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group said on Friday it had offered the ASLEF train drivers' union an improved pay offer in exchange for reforms to how the railways are run, in a bid to end an ongoing industrial dispute.

Drivers at 15 train companies went on strike on Thursday as part of action by the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union, the latest in a wave of strikes to have hit Britain's rail sector in recent months.

Other rail workers represented by the RMT union have also taken industrial action this week.

Rail Delivery Group said the offer included a backdated pay increase of 4% for 2022 followed by a further 4% pay rise in 2023, and a commitment to no compulsory redundancies over the next year.

However the offer also includes "vital and long overdue" changes to working arrangements, including to Sunday shifts and training, the company said.

"This is a fair and affordable offer in challenging times, providing a significant uplift in salary for train drivers while bringing in common-sense and long-overdue reforms," said Steve Montgomery, chair of Rail Delivery Group.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday he was hoping for constructive talks with trade union leaders next week, as thousands of workers in industries from rail to healthcare take strike action in disputes over pay.

Asked about the new pay offer, a spokesperson for ASLEF said "we haven't seen it, and we'll give it due consideration when we do".

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Jan Harvey)