Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef on Southern rail and the Gatwick Express have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in a pay dispute.
Aslef’s executive committee called strikes on Tuesday 1, Wednesday 2 and Friday 4 August.
Some 61.8% of voting members supported strike action, with 78.4% voting to take part in action short of a strike.
Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), had offered staff a four-year pay deal worth 23.8%.
Mick Whelan, general secretary, said: “Now is the time for Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport to step in and assist in finding a resolution to a problem they caused.”
Turnout among Aslef members in the ballot was 80.8%.
The GTR pay offer would have taken a driver’s base salary from £49,001 to £60,683 for the existing 35-hour, four-day week.
A spokesman for GTR said the proposed strike action across one week “is a deliberate move to cause maximum disruption for passengers”.
‘Shocked and frustrated’
“To do so in protest against an offer to increase pay by 24% is simply breathtaking.
“Commuters, the vast majority of whom are seeing pay rises many times less, will understandably be as shocked and frustrated as we are,” he said.
“We absolutely need to modernise in order to increase capacity on this the most congested part of the UK’s network, where passenger numbers have doubled in places in as little as 12 years.
“That requires modernisation of infrastructure, trains and working practices. The trade unions must join us in that endeavour.”
In a separate dispute with the company, over the introduction of driver-only operation (DOO) on some routes, train drivers have stopped working overtime.
Aslef and the RMT union have been involved in a long-running dispute after GTR replaced conductors with “on-board supervisors”, with extra responsibility, including the closing of train doors, switching to the drivers.