Train strike: second national walkout expected to cause massive disruption

Copyright : PA Media

Image caption: Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary

The strike was called by the National Union of Railway, Maritime and Transport Workerswhose members include everyone from guards and flaggers to catering staff and cleaners.

The union says workers – many of whom have continued to work throughout the pandemic – have suffered pay cuts in real terms and are now facing a cost of living crisis.

He accused the government of preventing railway companies from freely negotiating wages.

The union is also challenging Network Rail’s plans to cut 2,500 maintenance jobs as it tries to save £2billion over the next two years.

Railway network says he would offer a pay rise of more than 3%, but only if the union agrees to modernize working practices.

Its chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, said around 1,800 jobs were to be cut, but the “vast majority” would be by “voluntary departure and natural waste”.

He insists he would not consider any changes that would make the railways less safe and that modernization is needed.

Copyright: Reuters

The government says that it is up to the railway companies to negotiate.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned commuters must be prepared to “stay the course”, insisting rail sector reforms are in the interests of travellers.

Downing Street says £16billion of taxpayers’ money has been used to support the railways during the Covid pandemic, but with passenger numbers still down by a fifth and many businesses embracing work hybrid, modernization is necessary to avoid soaring ticket prices and the bankruptcy of operators.

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Edward L. Robinett