Millions of rail passengers across the UK are facing new disruptions on Thursday after the RMT federation accused the government of “ruining” negotiations.
Rail services are severely disrupted this week after about 40,000 union members working for Network Rail and 13 train operators voted to stage consecutive walkouts over jobs, pay and terms.
Talks were held on Wednesday between the union and industry leaders in an attempt to break the stalemate, but they ended without agreement.
Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary, said: “Grant Shapps has ruined these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening the dismissal of 2,900 of our members.
“Until the government loosens Network Rail and the train operators, it will not be possible to reach an agreement on a negotiation.”
He added: “We will continue our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated solution that provides job security and a pay rise for our members who are dealing with the escalating cost of living crisis.”
Only 60 percent of trains run on Wednesday, and some operators will run the services earlier than usual ahead of the next round of action.
The third and final strike of the week is scheduled for Saturday.
But in a breakthrough, members of the Transport Funktionærforeningen, which works for Merseyrail, have accepted a salary offer, which the union’s leaders say is 7.1 per cent. worth.
Secretary-General Manuel Cortes described it as “a reasonable result of a reasonable offer”.
A survey among more than 2,300 people conducted by Savanta ComRes showed that more than half (58 percent) thought the labor struggle was justified.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said reform of the railways was “desperately needed”.
The spokesman said: “Trade unions have closed large parts of the railway network, affected local businesses and unfairly cut off people from hospitals, schools and work.
“Early data show, however, that many people, unlike before, now have the opportunity to work from home, so we have not experienced haste to the roads, as the traffic has instead gone online, which means that the unions do not have the overall effect, they might have hoped. “