Rail and road worker strikes will cause major disruption for those returning to work after the Christmas break – amid fears that a continuation of the strike could trigger a slump reduced the need for train travel for many years.
About 40,000 members of the RMT alliance from Network Rail and 14 train operators are taking industrial action today, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday – meaning most services across the country will be out of service. motion.
Train drivers are also set to host a day of walking on Thursday, meaning the UK’s rail network will be paralyzed through the first working week of 2023. Passengers have been urged to Encourage travel only if necessary.
In a separate development, more than 100 road traffic officers and control room operators working for National Highways in England are launching their own 48-hour strike today.
While the strike is expected to have little impact on the network, roads are expected to be busy on both days as commuters ditch their trains and arrive at the office in their cars. .
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that rail strikes will continue until the government stops “blocking” a deal to resolve bitter disputes over pay, employment and conditions.
The union claims that – despite their best efforts during the festival period – the railway employers have not arranged any formal negotiations.
Mr. Lynch also alleged that an “unprecedented level of ministerial intervention” was preventing progress, and he said RMT representatives were “ready to negotiate around the clock”.
RMT strike days will see about half of the network down, with only 20% of normal services expected to run. These trains will also start later and end much earlier than usual, with trips only possible between 7:30am and 6:30pm.
According to The Times, ministers are concerned that millions of commuters will abandon train travel altogether as a result of the worst week of rail disruption in 30 years.
A government source told the newspaper: “This is an act of self-harm – a generation of passengers will leave the rail industry. We are talking about permanent scars. The strikes drag on. the longer, the greater the risk.”
But Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan, who represents train drivers, said workers had no choice but to go on strike because they had not received a raise since April 2019 – given the inflation rate. lead to a reduction in real wages.
Emphasizing that his union is always willing to negotiate with train operators, he added: “The ball is in their court. The companies, or the Tory government standing behind them, may be able to. put an end to this dispute now by making a serious and reasonable salary offer. It’s up to them.”
The Department for Transport has warned that passengers “have had enough rail strikes” – and urged unions to stop taking industrial action.
The spokesman said: “The government has proven that it is reasonable and is willing to facilitate the resolution of railway disputes. It is time for unions to come to the table and play their part.
“Inflation-matched wage increases for all public sector workers will cost everyone more in the long run – debt worsens, fuels inflation and costs every household.” an extra £1,000.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper will be interviewed live on Sky News at 7.20am this morning – followed by RMT general secretary Mick Lynch at 7.30am.