Train strike: Second national strike is expected to bring mass disruption

Written by Javed Iqbal

Copyright: PA Media

Caption: RMT Secretary-General Mick Lynch

The strike has been announced by National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workerswhose members include everyone from guards and signalmen to catering staff and cleaning assistants.

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

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

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

Network Rail says that it will give a wage increase of over 3%, but only if the union agrees to modernize working methods.

Its chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, says about 1,800 jobs were expected to be closed, but “the vast majority” would be through “voluntary resignation and natural waste.”

It insists that it will not consider any changes that would make the railways less secure and that modernization is necessary.

Copyright: Reuters

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

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that commuters must be ready to “stay the course”, and insists that reforms of the railway sector are in the traveling public.

Downing Street says £ 16bn. of taxpayers’ money was used to support the railways during the Covid pandemic, but with passenger numbers still down by a fifth and many companies using hybrid work, modernization is needed to avoid sky-high fares and stalled operators.

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Javed Iqbal

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