Britain Rail Strike
Few passengers walk at Waterloo East station as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, in London, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
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Trains canceled in UK as unions stage second 24-hour walkout

15 Comments
By JILL LAWLESS

Millions of people in Britain faced disruption Thursday as railway staff staged their second national walkout this week, and workers at Britain’s busiest airport announced plans to walk out, adding to summertime travel misery.

The 24-hour strike by 40,000 cleaners, signalers, maintenance workers and station staff canceled about four-fifths of passenger services across the country. A third walkout is planned for Saturday as part of Britain’s biggest and most disruptive railway strike in 30 years.

Train stations were largely deserted Thursday. Highways also were less busy than expected, and many people appeared to heed advice to avoid travel. Internet provider Virgin Media O2 said its data suggested “millions more people” than usual were working from home.

The strike is a headache for those who can’t work from home, as well as for patients with medical appointments, students heading for end-of-year exams and music lovers making their way to the Glastonbury Festival, which runs through Sunday on a farm in southwest England.

Meanwhile, British Airways check-in staff and other ground crew at Heathrow Airport voted to strike in a dispute over pay, their unions said Thursday. Dates have not been set, but the GMB and Unite unions said the walkouts would take place during the peak summer holiday period.

Air travelers in many countries are facing delays and disruption as airports struggle to cope with staff shortages and skyrocketing demand for flights after two pandemic-hit years.

The railway dispute centers on pay, working conditions and job security as Britain’s train companies aim to cut costs and staffing after two years in which emergency government funding kept them afloat.

The strike pits the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union against 13 privately owned train-operating companies and the government-owned National Rail. Talks between union representatives and employers ended in deadlock Wednesday. The union accused Britain's Conservative government of scuttling the negotiations.

The union says the government is preventing employers from improving on the 3% pay raise on the table so far. Britain’s inflation rate hit 9.1% in May, as Russia’s war in Ukraine squeezes supplies of energy and food staples while post-pandemic consumer demand soars.

“Every time we get close, there’s some kind of maneuver somewhere outside of the room with people that we’re not talking to, that has an impact on what’s going on inside the room,” Eddie Dempsey, the union's deputy general secretary, said.

The government denies getting involved in negotiations, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put blame for the strike squarely on the union. The government also warned that big pay raises would spark a wage-price spiral driving inflation even higher.

All sides are keeping an eye on public frustration, with polls suggesting opinion is about evenly divided between support for and opposition to the strikes.

Unions have told the country to brace for more as workers face the worst cost-of-living squeeze in more than a generation. Lawyers are planning a walkout starting next week, and unions representing teachers and postal workers plan to consult their members about possible action.

Darren Pilling, an RMT union official on a picket line at Liverpool Lime Street station in northwest England, said he believed the public supported the strikes, “because everyone else is suffering just as much as we are.”

“I stood here for eight hours on Tuesday and had nothing but support and praise from people,” he said.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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Stand strong people.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Just watched the RMT Union leader in BBC Newsnight. Hopelessly out of touch with modern business practices. Was even shouted down by some of his own employees. Disgraceful man in a powerful position.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

A union leader has employees?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Excuse my reference @funkymofo: ''Members''

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The parliamentary establishment across the political spectrum have little or no understanding of the hardships facing UK most vernable, let alone the pulse of public opinion.

The RMT union is drenched in an ideological unwinnable war against the government.

This pandemic changed the face of rail travel beyond recognition.

The tax payer has bailed out the rail industry, not the government, there is little or no wiggle room.

Thousands of jobs are now at risk, if this strike persists.

There has to be fundamental change to how UK rail network is managed.

Transparent flexible working practices, must, at the same time accompany by a purge of office based senior and middle management, to be replaced by a 21st century automated work management system, top down.

All must be brought under a single authority.

The franchise operators, the infrastructure, and then focus on cutting the unwieldy bureaucracy.

The Unions, the Government, opposition needs to drop all the political ideological posturing and pull there heads out of there backsides.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No-one should be expected to take effectively a 6% pay cut. The government is in direct control over what the rail companies can offer, and is therefore responsible for all the disruption.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's these guys on strike who keep Blighty's creaky transport system working because without them the country is up the creek without a paddle. Their labor and dedication to the job must be recognized by the UK government with more gratitude in the form of better working conditions and more monetary compensation. After all, it's capitalism, innit?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rail workers are just the tip of the iceberg. It's only a matter of time before others start striking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just watched the RMT Union leader in BBC Newsnight. 

No you didn’t. He wasn’t on Newsnight yesterday.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The photo, provides brutally, a business truth.

Without customers the rail industry will cease to exist, becoming economically unsustainable.

The Rail network is a essential service, sold off under the belief a unfitly of such strategic importance could become a means to leverage a tax on commuters needing to travel to work.

Now witness the outcome, as the pandemic and next generation communications technology, a WFH culture ensued, whipping the rung from under future investment in the rail network.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If the government was so opposed to these strikes, why didn’t leading members of it make a point of calling a sit down with the leaders of the unions?

What prevented it? Laziness? A packed schedule? Parties to go to? Surely they didn’t want these strikes, did they?

Anyone got any other suggestions?

A strike is very often a result of a failure to negotiate. Not even attempting to negotiate in the first place is bizarre.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

LIVE: Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) - 22 June 2022

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEJuJa-uJnU

Jimizo, for the Government and Opposition, this is what negotiation looks like, ugly, fiddling whilst Rome burns. A gruesome 34 minutes.

The Trains have not be running to anywhere near pre pandemic levels, the blame game and pompous points scoring is front center.

The irony, when Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell proposed a future economic fiscal policy that would require a £400 billion debt requirement, for this Government to borrow upwards of £450 billion without any clear detailed audit to ascertain any direction or need to focus on the most vernable first.

The pandemic has exposed the political establishment incompetence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Express Sister : ok, sorry, whatever the programme is after the 10pm news on BBC1

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@itsonlyrocknroll

The political theatre/public spectacle/s##tshow of PMQs is not the same as a serious discussion behind closed doors to attempt to prevent massive industrial action. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t relevant here either. This isn’t PMQs whataboutery.

It’s not as if these strikes came out of the blue.

Again, why didn’t this government make a serious attempt to negotiate?

If this was a competent government, I’d say they wanted these strikes to weaponize them for political gain. With this shower, other reasons are possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jimizo

Excuse and humour my PMQ whataboutery, and political comparison to Corbyn, McDonnell historical pre pandemic fiscal and monetary policy.

The government just doesn't have the fiscal wiggle room.

During the pandemic Johnson mismanaged the economy, the track and trace, PPE public health England failure. etc and still no independent inquiry.

June borrowing requirement is nudging £14 billion.

I am still financing 70% of my UK families farming business.

The staff, some working tirelessly over 23 years, offered take a pay cut when they disserve a 7 to 9% pay increase minimum.

I struggle sometimes to sleep at night, because I cannot leverage my business share holdings.

If they went on strike it would be game over.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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