British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls for compromise to end major rail strike

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for a reasonable compromise on workers’ union wage demands that have led to the UK’s worst railway strike in 30 years, with the majority of staff pulling out to cripple networks.

Only one in five trains are expected to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday when workers are on strike, with services across England, Wales and Scotland affected from Monday evening. Passengers have been advised to travel by train only when necessary.

“Too high wage demands will also make it incredibly difficult to address the current challenges facing families around the world with the rising cost of living,” Johnson said, ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street.

“Now is the time to reach a reasonable compromise for the good of the British people and the rail workforce,” he said.

Thousands of workers at state-owned Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out after midnight after last-minute talks broke down to avert Monday’s strikes. The rail union RMT has accused the government of preventing employers in the rail network from negotiating freely over wages. The union would demand a 7 percent wage increase, which is lower than inflation but higher than that proposed by the employers.

“It is clear that the Conservative Government, having cut £4billion of National Rail and Transport funding for London, has now actively prevented a settlement of this dispute,” said RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch. .

Rail companies have now offered pay rates that are massively below relevant inflation rates, on top of wage freezes in recent years. At the request of the government, the companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have given no guarantees against forced layoffs,” he said.

Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said the government was not the “constraining factor in the negotiations” as unions rejected an offer for a 3% pay rise.

In a separate line involving the London Underground network, London Underground network workers are also on strike on Tuesday over job cuts and a change to their pensions.

“We have a responsibility to tackle inflation and prevent it from taking root,” Downing Street said in a statement.

“To do that, we need to make sure wage deals are reasonable and don’t jostle to match inflation, and therefore drive prices up as the cost of goods and services rises to incorporate increases in salary,” the statement added.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Edward L. Robinett