Train drivers are to stage three days of strikes during the Olympics in a row over pensions, threatening disruption to spectators travelling to the Games.
Members of the Aslef union on East Midlands Trains, which provides services at Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough train stations, will take industrial action on August 6, 7 and 8, when a number of athletics finals will be held in the Olympic Stadium.
The company, owned by transport giant Stagecoach, said the public will be “shocked and angry” that strikes are being planned at a time of “great national pride” for the country.
David Horne, managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “This is yet another example of Aslef playing games and is a real kick in the teeth for our customers and the country.
“The fact is that there was only one point of clarification still under discussion with the union on the pension proposal we put forward back in June.
“We were in talks with Aslef to deal with this issue when we heard the news that further strike action dates had been announced.
“We’re particularly surprised that Aslef has announced further strike dates, rather than putting the offer that was accepted in principle back in June to their members for consideration.
“We’re certain that the public will be shocked and angry to hear that the union has announced strike action during a time of great national pride for our country.
“We hope Aslef can see sense and call off this unnecessary strike action.
“However, if the planned strike action does go ahead, we will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that people can still travel by train and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The drivers staged six strikes in May in protest at changes to their pensions but called off two further stoppages in June to allow further talks.
Aslef is protesting at plans to reduce pension contributions, a move which has been accepted by other unions with members on East Midlands Trains.
General secretary Mick Whelan said: “To cut pension contributions in the current climate is highly irresponsible. It is widely believed that the fund’s assets have dramatically decreased since the last valuation.
“Also, any suggestion that drivers would save money ignores the fact that the pension scheme is split 60/40 between the employer and the employee - so if our members are saving £500, the company is saving £750. In total that’s £1,250 a year less going into the fund per active member.
“This is simply storing up trouble for the next valuation and the future of the scheme. It is disingenuous to suggest our members are getting something for nothing.
“The current owners of the East Midlands Trains (EMT) franchise may have no responsibility over the pension fund in a few years, whereas our members face the prospect of either cripplingly high contribution rates or reduced benefits due to a short-term cost-cutting decision made by EMT that has left the scheme in deficit.”