‘We can’t tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked’ – Fresh transport strikes set to cause more travel chaos

UK

Rail, Tube and bus passengers are set to face four days of travel misery as tens of thousands of workers stage another round of strikes.

In recent months, several strikes have been carried out as part of a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions.

From Thursday, Network Rail, train companies, London Underground and buses in the capital will be hit by walkouts, causing disruption for workers, commuters, and fans going to events, including a cricket Test match at Lords.

The industrial action will affect services until the end of the weekend.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite will be involved after ongoing talks failed to break deadlocked rows.

When are the strikes?

RMT members at Network Rail and 14 train operators, TSSA members at seven companies and Unite members also at Network Rail will walk out on Thursday, causing a knock on effect for services on Friday morning.

More on Rail Strikes

Friday’s services will also be rocked by strikes by members of the RMT and Unite on London Underground, as well as Unite members on London United bus routes.

On Saturday, the same groups of workers, excluding members on London Underground, will strike again.

Sunday morning train services will be affected as a result.

Rail services on Thursday and Saturday will be drastically reduced, with around just a fifth running and half of lines closed.

Trains will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both strike days, and picket lines will be mounted outside railway stations across the country.

People who are not able to travel on Thursday or Saturday are able to use their ticket either the day before or up until the 23 August, or claim a refund.

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What are rail workers asking for?

‘Train operating companies haven’t offered anything new’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said his union’s members are more determined than ever to protect their pensions, secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions, and will not “tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked”.

“Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new,” he said.

He also claimed Tube bosses are having “secret negotiations” with the government about cutting jobs and Network Rail is threatening to “impose compulsory redundancies” if the strikes go ahead.

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“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith, but we cannot tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked into accepting a raw deal for our members,” he added.

“The government need to stop their interference in these disputes, so the employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on a picket line outside Euston station in London, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union begin their nationwide strike along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2022.

‘This cannot go on’

TSSA members taking action include staff working in ticket offices, stations, control rooms, engineering, as well as planning, timetabling and other support roles.

The union is seeking guarantees of no compulsory redundancies, a pay rise in line with the cost of living, and promises of no unilateral alterations to job terms and conditions.

“Our members in the rail industry are going into the third or fourth year of a pay freeze,” said TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes.

“Meanwhile, food and fuel bills are spiralling, and the Tory cost of living crisis is making working people poorer. Enough is enough – this cannot go on.

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“For lots of our members, this is the first time they have ever taken industrial action – it is a last resort and not something any rail worker takes lightly.”

He added that railway workers “put their lives at risk” during the COVID pandemic, but negotiations are now being hampered by the government, stopping employers from “making a reasonable offer” to those same employees.

“Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Department for Transport need to make a reasonable offer on pay and job security – either by coming to the table themselves or allowing employers to negotiate freely,” he said.

“We will not back down until our members have won the pay, conditions and job security they deserve.”

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Stationary trains at London stations

What does the transport secretary think?

Mr Shapps has described the industrial action as an example of unions being “hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible” to taxpayers, who “stumped up £600 per household to ensure not a single rail worker lost their job during the pandemic”.

He tweeted: “It cannot be right for the country to be held to ransom by union bosses seeking to protect outdated work practices that have no place in the 21st century.”

It comes as the Daily Mail reported details of Mr Shapp’s 16-point plan to tackle strikes, with the paper saying that such a plan could include ending a ban on the government using emergency powers to stop strikes if they could create a “national emergency”.

Many have reacted negatively to the strike announcement, with Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines saying it “saddens” him to see more disruption on the rail network.

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group, also hit back, saying the action imposes “yet more uncertainty on passengers and businesses”.

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