Railway workers and Network Rail are locked in a bitter dispute over jobs, wages and working conditions
Rail workers have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action after a row with Network Rail, prompting massive service disruptions across the country.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) polled members on possible strike action after a bitter dispute with Network Rail over jobs, wages and working conditions.
RMT said Network Rail intends to cut around 2,500 maintenance jobs while other employees have faced pay freezes, threats to their jobs and attacks on their working conditions.
Union bosses, with strong support from their members, will now proceed to decide when the strikes will take place.
What did RMT Union say about the strikes?
Around 40,000 members were elected, according to the RMT, including workers at Chiltern Railways Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, Island Line, Govia Thameslink (including Gatwick Express), Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains.
71% of eligible members took part in the vote, with 89% voting for industrial action.
RMT says the mandate was the largest support for industrial action by railway workers since privatization.
Union general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s overwhelming support from rail workers validates the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no redundancies.”
When are there rail strikes?
RMT has not yet decided when exactly the strikes will take place, but hopes they can take industrial action from early summer if the issue is not resolved.
Mr Lynch said: “Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope that ministers will encourage employers to return to the negotiating table and negotiate a sensible deal with the RMT.”
Any strike by railway workers could have a significant impact on timetables.
Network Rail strikes can follow a similar pattern, with the possibility of the timetable ending much earlier.
What did Network Rail say about the strikes?
Network Rail has criticized the move to call for union action, claiming the union is “hasty”.
The company said the industry is at a key stage in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and has encouraged RMT to “keep talking, not walking”.
Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines said: “The RMT has been hasty in reacting here as everyone loses if there is a strike. We know our employees are concerned about job security and pay. As a public body, we have worked to offer a wage increase that taxpayers can afford and we continue to discuss this with our unions.
“We urge the RMT to sit down with us and keep talking, not walking around, so we can find a compromise and avoid harmful industrial action.
“We are at a pivotal point in the railroad’s recovery from the pandemic. The taxpayer has provided the industry with £16billion worth of extra life support in the last two years and it cannot continue.
“Travel habits have changed forever, and railroads must change too to adapt to this new reality. We believe that by modernizing – creating safer jobs for our employees and running the railroad more efficiently – we can build a sustainable future with a railroad that serves passengers and taxpayers.
“Any industrial action at this point would be disastrous for our industry recovery and would severely impact critical supply and freight chains. It would also serve to undermine our collective ability to afford the wage increases we want to make.”
The strikes could have a huge financial impact on Network Rail, with industrial action potentially costing the industry around £30m a day.
Network Rail says strike action would undermine its ability to afford pay rises due to the financial impact of staff strikes.
What did the government say about the strikes?
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Strikes should always be a last resort, not the first, so it is extremely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering into discussions.
“Taxpayers across the country have contributed £16billion to keep our railways running during the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker loses their job.
“The railroad is still on life support, ridership is down 25% and anything that drives more of them away risks destroying services and jobs. Train travel is now a choice, not a necessity, for millions of people. Strikes discourage our customers from choosing rail and they may never return.
“We urge RMT to reconsider and accept the invitation to industry talks so we can find a solution that is fair to workers, passengers and taxpayers alike.”
https://www.nationalworld.com/news/uk/train-strikes-rmt-union-vote-in-favour-of-industrial-action-against-3707550 Train strikes: RMT union votes for industrial action