Train strike in UK continues

Train strike in UK continues

After the holiday break, the UK’s six-month-long transport strikes resumed with a vengeance on Tuesday, with railway workers planning five days of strikes with “serious disruption” to trains at the key.

Some 40,000 railway workers working for Network Rail, the public operator of the rail network, as well as 14 private rail companies, are witnessing a four-day strike at the call of the RMT union. The train drivers’ union Aslef calls for an additional day of strike.

RMT, which launched the industry’s largest strike in 30 years in June, is demanding better wages but also guarantees on working conditions in the face of inflation, which is nearly 11% in the country. The union accuses the conservative government of blocking the negotiations.

Network Rail has warned there is “serious disruption” to be expected on parts of the rail network this week, urging Brits to “only travel if absolutely necessary”.

“The unions have decided they want to go on strike this week, which is deeply unnecessary, is damaging to the rail sector, is damaging to the interests of the people who work there,” Transport Secretary Mark Harper condemned on Sky News on Tuesday.

The minister pledged to “work hard” to resolve the dispute between the railway companies and the unions and hints that an offer is on the table.

But for RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, on the contrary, it is the executive branch that is “undermining efforts to reach an agreement” by imposing overly harsh conditions on railroad negotiators.

“We cannot accept the current proposal. We need new elements in the equation to be able to find solutions,” he explained, believing that an agreement “is possible in the coming days”.

Shopper strikes have multiplied across many sectors in the UK in recent months, notably in December with a strike by nurses and paramedics, but also postal workers and even telecoms operators.

Traffic has already been disrupted over the holiday season with strikes by railway workers, but also by traffic officers on UK motorways and border guards who have forced the deployment of soldiers at several UK airports.