Wave of strikes brings more chaos to British railways

Train passengers face another tumultuous week on British rail as a series of bitter and protracted industrial disputes extend into the new year and disrupt the return to work after the Christmas break. .

Rail users have been warned to “travel only if absolutely necessary” from Tuesday to Saturday, with much of the network down and frame services expected to operate in places where is different.

Around 40,000 RMT members will perform take a walk on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in disputes over wages, job security, and change in work practices. Train drivers represented by the union Aslef will be out of work on Thursdays in a row over pay, leaving commuters commuting for five miserable days.

Rail disruption week comes as the government faces a growing wave of industrial unrest in the public sector, with unions pushing for substantial wage increases to offset rising wages. Cost of living.

This week’s National Highway and Vehicle and Driver Standards Agency marches will see control room and traffic officers along with participating driver instructors participate in strikes organized by PCS, the civil servants’ association. Nurses and ambulance workers are also set for more industrial action this month.

But the rail network has been hit by the most widespread strikes so far this winter. RMT, the UK’s largest transport union, is embroiled in two separate disputes with 14 train operators and infrastructure provider Network Rail.

There is some optimism in the industry that an agreement to end the Network Rail dispute could be possible as negotiations are expected to resume next week.

In December, RMT declined a 9% pay rise for two years, with more for lower-paid employees, which is tied to major changes in the way it works. The union has since been isolated, after unions TSSA and Unite accepted similar arrangements.

Network Rail’s chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, said a deal could be “in the hands” if RMT returned the 9% incentive to members.

He told the BBC on Tuesday: “We want to make sure we can work with RMT now to clear up where there was a misunderstanding and get the deal done again.

Network Rail bosses are also buoyed by signs that strikes are beginning to crack as employees lose money, and estimate that around 2,000 people went to work during a single day of strikes in December. The RMT said support for the strikes remains high among its members.

Disputes with train operators seem more difficult to resolve. The industry posted an 8% increase, tied to workplace reforms that RMT said it could not accept.

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, on Tuesday called on unions to resume talks and “get off the fence”.

Harper said the government does not have a “bottomless tax hole” to resolve ongoing disputes over under-inflationary wage increases in the public sector.

He told the BBC: “There’s a fair and reasonable offer on the table that is comparable to the kind of pay arrangements that listeners of this show are getting across the economy. Today programme.

Mick Lynch, secretary general of the RMT, said he was ready to restart talks but insisted the government had undermined efforts to reach a solution.

Last month, Financial Times report that ministers have prevented the industry from offering unions higher-paying deals and added new, tougher conditions at the last minute. The government controls the purse strings of an industry that is now actually fully re-nationalized.

Ministers have argued that the rail industry faces a post-pandemic financial crisis and subsequent drop in passenger revenue, while reforming and modernizing must be undertaken.

This week is set to end nearly a month of continuous disruption caused by a series of RMT strikes throughout December along with a ban on overtime on other days, resulting in reduced service on many lines.

Additional reporting by Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe


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