Photo credits @ Flickr/ Nik Morris under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

3-day rail strike to hit UK freight and passenger services

In the biggest dispute on the railway network since 1989, over 50,000 railway workers will walk out as part of 3 days of national strike action in June, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced.

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RMT will shut down the country’s railway network on the 21st, 23rd and 25th of June, a move the union says is down to the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT. According to the BBC, the action will leave around a fifth of mainline rail services running on strike days, with the majority operating for a maximum of 12 hours.

The union says Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe.

Despite intense talks with the rail bosses, RMT has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

In a separate dispute over pensions and job losses, London Underground RMT members will take strike action on June 21st.

“Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch. “We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1pc and rising.

Lynch said that rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits and “rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic”. “This unfairness is fuelling our members’ anger and their determination to win a fair settlement,” he added.

The union states it is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways.

On the first day of the planned strike (21 June), London Underground RMT workers plan to walk out in a separate dispute over pensions and job losses, taking the total number of staff.

The UK government said last month it was putting together contingency measures to reduce the impact of strikes. According to the plans, freight services will be given priority over passenger trains.

Photo credits @ Flickr/ Nik Morris under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0