UK rail union announces nationwide strike later this month
The rail union RMT will stage strike action throughout the UK on June 21, 23 and 25. Up to 50,000 railway workers are expected to join the walkouts, and railway services will be affected throughout the week.
According to RMT, the strike action will be the “biggest dispute on the network since 1989”. The BBC writes that only around one-fifth of mainline rail services will remain in operation on the mentioned strike days.
Union members at infrastructure manager Network Rail will stage walkouts as well as those at 13 train operating companies. On the first day of the strike, they will be joined by union members working on the London Underground.
RMT says the action is a result of “the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT.”
“Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe. Despite intense talks with the rail bosses, RMT has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies”, the union writes.
“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1pc and rising”, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said in separate comments.
Network Rail ceo Andrew Haines acknowledges that cost of living has increased, but said that as a public company it has to be frugal. Chairman of rail industry body Rail Delivery Group Steve Montgomery said “no one wins in the event of a strike. Staff lose pay, the industry loses vital revenue making it harder to afford pay increases, and passengers and businesses are disrupted.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, too, said the decision to go on strike would affect the reputation of the sector negatively. “The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25 percent fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of 16 billion pounds, equivalent to 600 pounds per household. We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.”
Festival crowds on the move
The strike action largely coincides with the Glastonbury music festival, which will likely attract some 150,000 visitors. In previous year, some of those would take the Great Western Railway service to the Network Rail-operated Castle Cary station. Union members of both companies will be joining the strike action.
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