UK: rail strike threat still ongoing

UK: rail strike threat still ongoing

The rail union RMT will shut down the country's railway network on 21st, 23rd, and 25th June.

“We continue to meet with our trades unions to discuss their pay concerns and we’re doing everything we can to avoid strike action on the railway. We know that the cost of living has increased and we want to give our people a pay rise, but the RMT must recognize we are a public body and any pay increase has to be affordable for taxpayers and passengers," says Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive.

Over 50,000 railway workers will walk out as part of 3 days of national strike action later this month, in the biggest dispute on the network since 1989.

The union declared that they will strike due to the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT. And because Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe.

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.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive opposes: “Travel habits have changed forever and the railway must change as well. We cannot expect to take more than our fair share of public funds, and so we must modernize our industry to put it on a sound financial footing for the future. Failure to modernize will only lead to industrial decline and more job losses in the long run."

But rail union disagrees with him consisting that they will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.

"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 11.1pc and rising. Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic," RMT general secretary Mick Lynch added.

According to Network Rail, the rail industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Passenger numbers have recovered somewhat, but are still only at 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Demand and travel habits have changed – particularly in the commuter market – and so they have to change too.

"The Government has subsidized the rail industry to the tune of £16bn since the start of the pandemic to keep services running without furloughing a single worker. This is an average of almost £600 per household, and is not sustainable, especially when other vital services like the NHS need public support. The railway should not take more than its fair share of public funds," argues the rail company.

If it goes ahead, strike action would cost Network Rail around £30m each day.

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