Around 40,000 of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union members at Network Rail have been taking UK-wide strike action on Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4, Friday 6, and Saturday 7 January resulting from a pay dispute with the track and infrastructure operator.
Additionally, on the RMT's non-strike day Thursday, 5 January, the labor union ASLEF joins to strike so this event is going on for five days in a row.
"We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place," said Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, which represents 96% of the train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales. "They have not offered our members at these companies a penny – and these are people who have not had an increase since April 2019," he added.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, explained their position: "We have worked with the rail industry to reach successfully negotiated settlements ever since privatization in 1993. And we have achieved deals across the network in 2021 and 2022 in which the Department for Transport has no involvement. Yet in this dispute, there is an unprecedented level of ministerial interference, which is hamstringing rail employers from being able to negotiate a package of measures with us, so we can settle this dispute.
UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper reacted on his Twitter account that the ministry wants to end these strikes with a deal that’s fair to workers, passengers, and the taxpayer: " I’ve met union leaders and delivered new, improved pay and reform offers that two unions have accepted. It’s time for the unions to get off the picket line and back round the table," according to him.
However, as BBC News published, train strikes could continue for months more, quoting the boss of Britain's largest rail union Mike Lynch that he had the mandate to take action up until May, and could "go further".
The strike affected also other rail companies. For instance, the Scottish rail company ScotRail said at the beginning of the strike: "Although the dispute does not involve ScotRail staff it will have a major impact on the train operator’s ability to provide services as the RMT planned action involves Network Rail staff in Scotland."