Misery for passengers as three days of strike action planned
More than 50,000 railway workers will go on strike later this month over pay freezes and planned job cuts as part of the biggest dispute on the network since 1989.
The railway network will come to a standstill on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23, and Saturday 25 June, impacting 13 train operating companies, including:
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- East Midlands Railway
- Greater Anglia
- Great Western Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- Transpennine Express
- West Midlands Trains.
On June 21, the rail strike action will coincide with a separate, second walk out by London Underground RMT members. And it comes in time to disrupt journeys for those heading to Glastonbury festival which is returning for the first time since 2019.
RMT said it will shut down the country’s railway network “due to the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT”.
It said Network Rail and 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 rail bosses, RMT said it has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
‘Sustained campaign of industrial action’
RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.
“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 11.1% and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.
“Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, while fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This unfairness is fuelling our members’ anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.
“RMT is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways.”
‘Passengers who suffer most in the event of strikes’
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted: “Very disappointing RMTunion are taking action that could damage the rail network after taxpayers contributed £16bn, £600 per household, to keep jobs during Covid. We’re working with industry to reduce disruption caused by strikes but urge unions to come to talks with employers.”
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will be disappointed that the rail industry and the RMT have not been able to reach an agreement and strikes have been announced. This means uncertainty for passengers, so it is crucial that all parties get back around the table and resolve this matter without bringing the railway to a standstill.
“It is passengers who suffer most in the event of strikes. Passengers will need plenty of advance information about the strikes and what services will be running to allow them to plan their journeys during this uncertain time.”