London train and Tube strike latest LIVE: Union chief tells Grant Shapps to ‘get on with job’ and ‘settle dispute’ during latest strike

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London train and Tube strike latest LIVE: Union chief tells Grant Shapps to ‘get on with job’ and ‘settle dispute’ during latest strike
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Union chief Mick Lynch called on Grant Shapps to “get on with the job” and “settle the dispute” on Saturday.

As rail workers picketed for the third time this week the head of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), accused the Government of not approaching talks with a constructive attitude.

He said: “He needs to tone down the rhetoric and get on with his job, which is to settle this dispute. I think their attitude is not constructive and I think it’s preventing us from getting a settlement.”

Unless talks come to a resolution, Mr Lynch wanred more strikes will be planned later this year.

Approximately a fifth of rail services are operating while up to half the lines across the country are closed, with many only running between between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

In London, the overground is running a reduced service and is part closed. The District and Bakerloo lines are also part suspended, while the central, cirlcle, victoria, and metropolitan lines are experiencing minor to severe delays.

All other lines on the Tube network are mostlty unaffected, although Transport for London is running a reduced service on the Elizabeth Line and has advised travellers to expect disruption.

Kwasi Kwarteng set to rule out Union e-ballots

21:00 , Barney Davis

The Business Secretary is set to shoot down the prospect of unions holding electronic strike ballots, citing concerns the votes could be vulnerable to a “malevolent attack” from foreign states.

An independent review of electronic balloting back in 2017, led by former chief fire and rescue adviser Sir Ken Knight, concluded the method should be “examined in test conditions before it is introduced under any live situation or fully rolled out”, and only for non-statutory votes.

The Government said at the time it would consider the recommendations and consult with experts from relevant organisations before responding.

Three years on, in 2020, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) mocked ministers for the lengthy wait for their verdict, saying their response “must be lost in the post”.

The TUC argued in favour of e-ballots, making the case the law as it stands “remains stuck firmly in the pre-digital era”.

Rob Delaney shows admiration for RMT’s Mick Lynch

19:19 , Barney Davis

Actor Rob Delaney was pictured joining the RMT strike action outside Kings Cross holding up a t-shirt of Mick Lynch.

Delaney told the crowds the strike was “inspiring” and called RMT’s action the “tip of the spear”.

“I offer my unwavering support and solidarity,” he said.

Speaking to PA after his speech, the actor said: “I ride trains like you ride trains and I would like the people who clean them to be fairly paid, or not have a pay cut in real terms or have their job removed.”

He added: “We’re not asking for crazy things, these people are asking to be able to heat their homes, people who have jobs want to be able to heat their homes in winter.

He added that he hopes the dispute gets resolved because those striking should not be out protesting in King’s Cross on a Saturday in June but should be outside or “on the beach”.

Mick Lynch hints at more strikes

18:58 , Barney Davis

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said further industrial action has not been ruled out, as a fresh strike crippled train services.

Speaking at a picket line outside Euston Station in central London on Saturday morning, he said: “We’re not ruling out strikes but we have not put down any dates for any strike action.

“We’re going to review with our national executive next week, who have been all the way round the country this week on the picket line, so we’re all going to get together the leadership of the union and see where we are.

“We are not going to name dates immediately

He added: “It’s quite odd. The people who are running this country are brought up on a diet of Latin and Greek and our members are brought up on a diet of getting up at ungodly times to run the transport system. I think there’s a bit of disconnect there.

“If we had people who were used to doing work we might get a better deal out of them.”

Mick Lynch speaks at a picket on Saturday (PA)
Mick Lynch speaks at a picket on Saturday (PA)

Ed Sheeran fans quoted £231 to park their car near Wembley concert during rail strikes

18:10 , Barney Davis

Concertgoers hoping to travel by car to Wembley Stadium for Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour on Saturday faced paying up to £231 for a rented parking space for the evening, as the rail strike forced fans to drive to the event.

Karen and Amanda Pollecutt, sisters from Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex, were originally hoping to catch a Southern train to central London for the gig.

Upon realising the strike would affect their journey, they planned to drive straight to the Wembley stadium, but found all five of the nearby car parks were fully booked up, as were all the surrounding hotels.

Karen said: “We were looking at car parking, they were fully booked. We tried five around here. And then there was a website where you could park on someone’s drive and they wanted £231. And it was like, we like Ed Sheeran, but not that much!”

‘Enough is Enough’ Unions boss speech outside Kings Cross

17:52 , Barney Davis

Union leaders today declared “enough is enough” as they promised to protect workers hit by the cost of living crisis in demonstrations outside Kings Cross station.

Eddie Dempsey, of the RMT Union, said they were fighting for the result all workers need.

He said: “There isn’t a train that moves in this country, not a bin gets emptied or a shelf that gets stacked without the kind, generous permission of the working class.”

He told jubilant crowds waving RMT flags the strike was for every worker that has to use a foodbank and every worker that has been “robbed by their landlord”.

John McDonnell calls on Keir Starmer ‘to come off the fence’ on travel strikes

17:01 , Barney Davis

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he stands in “solidarity” with the RMT and railway workers.

Speaking to the PA news agency at the rally outside Kings Cross on Saturday, Mr McDonnell said: “I’m on picket line after picket line and so are many Labour MPs.

“I’m saying to Keir Starmer and other Labour MPs as well, do the right thing. If you think RMT have got a justifiable dispute, we should support them.

“I think it is justifiable,” he added. “Follow your conscience so therefore, for me, that means Labour MPs being on picket lines and it includes Keir Starmer as well coming off the fence, supporting working people because they’re not asking for the world. They’re asking for protection.”

Ed Sheeran fans left Wales at 2am to make London concert

16:28 , Sami Quadri

Fans attending Ed Sheeran’s Mathemetics tour at Wembley Stadium on Saturday began their journeys to London as early as 2am on Friday morning due to the strikes.

Carol and Norman Wheeldon, 59, left home in Powys, Wales at 2am on Friday morning to ensure they made it to the concert.

The couple had booked a train to London on Friday but it was cancelled just over a week ago due to the strike, so they decided to travel almost 200 miles by car.

“We booked with Trainline and then a week ago we found out they weren’t running, so they gave us a full refund and we’ve had to travel down by car,” Mrs Wheeldon said.

She added: “Actually it was very, very easy. Our children put in the codes for us on the car Satnav and it was brilliant. Took us exactly to the car park.”

The couple stayed in a central London hotel overnight before completing their journey by Tube.

Pictured: Actor Rob Delaney speaks at King’s Cross rally

16:11 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
(PA)

Labour MP John McDonnell joins ‘massive' King’s Cross rally

15:57 , Sami Quadri

Pictured: Mick Lynch speaking at a rally outside King’s Cross Station

15:54 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
(PA)

Huge crowds of people chanting at King's Cross rally

15:47 , Sami Quadri

Mick Lynch calls for ‘redistribution of wealth'

15:43 , Sami Quadri

Pictured: RMT general secretary Mick Lynch speaking at a rally outside King’s Cross Station

15:35 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
(PA)

RMT’s assistant director general says ‘enough is enough’

15:25 , Sami Quadri

Eddie Dempsey, assistant director general of RMT, told the crowds outside King’s Cross: “We are being told in our industry that we must modernise and when they say we must modernise what they mean is we must be poor, we must lose our jobs and we must do that to protect the profits of private companies that have been robbing the British people for years.

“Enough is enough,” he said.

“We think modernisation means you go to work and get paid a wage you can live on,” he added.

“Our society is broken, our economy is broken and we are the people who are going to fix it.”

“We say that if you are working class in this country, you deserve a house you can live in, a wage you can take care of your family on and protections when you get old.”

Diane Abbott slams Labour leadership for failing to pick sides in rail dispute

15:07 , Sami Quadri

Speaking to the crowds outside King’s Cross, Labour MP Diane Abbott criticised the party for not picking a side in the dispute.

She said: “I do not understand the argument that Labour should not be here because we are not meant to pick a side.

“I thought when you join Labour, you are picking a side, on the working class side.”

Comedian Rob Delaney gives speech at rail strike

14:42 , Sami Quadri

Actor and comedian Rob Delaney is speaking at the RMT rally outside King’s Cross.

He described the strike action as “inspiring”, and called the workers involved the “tip of the spear”.

He added: “I offer my unwavering support and solidarity.”

Workers gather outside King’s Cross and St Pancras Station for rally

13:51 , Sami Quadri

Railway workers and supporters are gathering outside King’s Cross and St Pancras Station in central London for a rally.

Dozens of people have arrived holding placards reading slogans like “Tories out”, “Cut profits not pay”, and “Support the railway workers’ strike”.

The “Internationale” workers’ anthem is playing from speakers on a makeshift podium, where RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and comedian Rob Delaney are due to make speeches from 2pm.

Hospital workers and cleaners with the GMB general workers’ union also joined the rally.

They arrived shouting and holding signs saying: “#endoutsourcing.”

RMT president Alex Gordon said through a microphone on the stage: “Welcome, victory to the cleaners.”

The rail workers also cheered as the group arrived.

The hospital workers are calling for contractor company Mitie to be removed.

They chanted: “Mitie out,” and “Mitie is a thief, Mitie is a liar”.

RMT gather for a rally outside Liverpool Lime Street station

13:46 , Sami Quadri

Members of the RMT and a number of other unions gathered for a rally on the steps of Liverpool Lime Street station.

Many waved flags and banners, with one man holding a sign mocking Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

RMT regional council secretary Darren Pilling told the crowd: “Rail workers are standing up for the kind of pay rise every worker deserves.”

Speakers from other unions also addressed the rally, and there was a performance from the Socialist Singers.

Inside the station, trains to London Euston and to Alderley Edge in Cheshire, via Manchester Airport, are still running.

Labour MPs join picket despite being told to stay away

12:52 , Bill Mcloughlin

Liverpool Labour MPs Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Kim Johnson and Paula Barker joined a rally in support of the RMT outside the city’s Lime Street station on Saturday.

Addressing the crowd, Mr Byrne said: “It is a privilege to be able to speak today, show my solidarity to the RMT striking membership and thank this magnificent union for everything they have done for our class this week.”

He said a photograph of himself and other Labour MPs on a picket line earlier this week, which was published on the front page of the Daily Mail newspaper, now has “pride of place” in his office.

The Liverpool West Derby MP said: “We must use this moment to begin to rebalance the scales of injustice which is waged against the working class.

“This is the moment when the country is saying ‘enough is enough’.”

Jeremy Corbyn joins RMT union picket line at Newcastle Central Station

11:57 , Sami Quadri

Pictured: Sign warns of RMT union strike action at Waterloo station

11:54 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
(PA)

Grant Shapps says we must ‘banish outdated working practices’ on railways

11:27 , Sami Quadri

In a series of tweets, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our railway is a proud part of our history and has served us well for 200 years, but if we want it to serve us for the next 200 then it must move with the times and banish the outdated working practices that are holding it back.

“For instance, did you know, Sunday working laws haven’t been updated since 1919. That means, for some Train Operating Companies, Sundays aren’t part of the working week and they have to rely on the ‘good will’ of employees to work them – while receiving substantial overtime pay!”

Mr Shapps also criticised “maintenance laws”, saying: “The rostering of individuals or training of multiskilled workers isn’t allowed. It means for a job that could, in theory, be completed by one person, whole teams have to be sent. Even worse, these teams won’t share vans or equipment either.

“Not only that but maintenance teams aren’t allowed to cross one geographical boundary to another, even neighbouring ones to carry out vital repairs. It means a team based at Euston wouldn’t be able to walk 500 yards to Kings Cross to fix an urgent points failure.

“Practices such as this aren’t just archaic, they are hugely damaging to commuters’ daily lives and the economy, causing people to be late for work or miss hospital appointments and, as an industry, we must change.”

Labour MP donates part of salary to local RMT strike fund

11:16 , Sami Quadri

A Labour MP has donated £2,000 to the strike fund of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

Nadia Whittome, the MP for Nottingham East, joined striking rail workers outside Nottingham Station on Thursday and will also speak at their rally there on Saturday.

RMT members are staging their third strike of the week in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

When Ms Whittome was elected, she pledged to share her MP’s salary with local causes in Nottingham.

She has previously made donations to the local branches of other unions – the IWGB Couriers and the App Driver and Couriers Union – as well as a range of charities, not-for-profits and grassroots groups.

She takes home £35,000 per year after tax, donating the remainder.

Commenting on her donation to the RMT, Ms Whittome said: “Rail strikers are leading the way for workers in the cost-of-living crisis – demanding decent pay and conditions to keep up with the cost of soaring inflation.

“It’s workers like them who need a pay rise, not MPs. That’s why I’m donating £2,000 from my salary to my local RMT branch strike fund.

“When workers go on strike they don’t get paid. So this money will help to ensure that no-one faces hardship as a result of standing up for themselves at work.”

Most people want Government to intervene in rail dispute, poll finds

10:58 , Sami Quadri

Most people believe the Government should intervene in the rail dispute and support the workers’ right to strike when talks fail, according to a new poll.

A survey of 2,000 people carried out by Opinium for the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union found fewer than one in five supports cuts to staff on trains and stations.

Seven out of 10 respondents said rail workers should have a negotiated pay rise that takes into account the cost of living, and 59% believe staff have the right to strike if negotiations fail.

Three out of five of those polled said the Government should intervene to ensure rail companies meet the workers’ concerns.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This poll supports the evidence we’ve seen on the picket lines this week. There is strong support for rail workers to receive a fairer deal and for the Government to intervene to address rail workers’ concerns.

“A clear majority of the public also support rail workers’ right to strike.

“There is also massive public opposition to plans to cut thousands of track, train, and station jobs, and to the Government’s policy of allowing profiteering from the rail industry.

“It’s time the Government listened to the public instead of picking political fights with rail workers.”

Mick Lynch refuses to rule out strike action

10:38 , Sami Quadri

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the union has not ruled out further strike action with there being little sign of a breakthrough to the deadlocked row.

Mr Lynch joined workers on a picket line outside Euston Station in central London on Saturday morning.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “We’re not ruling out strikes but we have not put down any dates for any strike action.

“We’re going to review with our national executive next week, who have been all the way round the country this week on the picket line, so we’re all going to get together the leadership of the union and see where we are.

“We are not going to name dates immediately and we’re going to continue working constructively with the companies to strike a deal, but that is a really steep challenge at the moment because of the agenda they’ve got and the effects they want on our members.

“Strike action’s not ruled out and it will have to take place if we do not get a deal, but we’re hoping that we can get a deal and we get some compromise.

“What we try to do is have the most effective strike action if it needs to take place. We’re not just pretending. It’s got to be a coherent and effective strike action because we don’t want to waste our members’ energy on something that doesn’t work. We’ll review that and see what we need to do if we need to take that action.”

Services running as usual at Paddington

10:11 , Sami Quadri

All appeared calm at Paddington Station in west London on Saturday morning with notable services such as Elizabeth Line trains to Reading via Twyford and to Heathrow T4, and GWR services to Bristol Parkway operating as usual.

All trains expected to arrive at Paddington Station until at least 10:54 were listed as being on time, or with five minutes or fewer delay.

More than 12 members of staff, most of whom wearing purple Network Rail high vis jackets, were on hand to provide advice to passengers.

Fewer than 100 members of the public were sitting waiting for news of when to board services, and the concourse remained clear.

Seaside resorts without rail services due to strikes

09:51 , Sami Quadri

Beachgoers have been left disappointed due to the lack of rail services at seaside resorts.

Resorts including Bournemouth in Dorset, Blackpool in Lancashire and Margate in Kent are without rail services today.

Cornwall will also have no trains.

Services will be primarily restricted to main lines, which will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Public has a right to expect reforms to rail services, says PM

08:50 , Sami Quadri

The public has a right to expect reforms to rail services, the Prime Minister has said.

Boris Johnson told Sky News: “I would say, given the circumstances we’re in, I think what we want to see is reform and improvement in the way the railways work, and modernisation.

“When you’ve got a 25% fall in ridership, which we’ve got at the moment, we’ve got the Government putting billions and billion (into it).

“We’re putting more into the railways than any previous government.

“I think the traveling public has a right to expect some basic reforms, like with ticket offices, like with walking time, and some of these other practices that really nobody defends except the union leaders.”

Pictured: The picket line outside Euston station

08:49 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
(PA)

Mick Lynch refuses to rule out further strike action

08:37 , Sami Quadri

Mr Lynch has not ruled out further strike action this summer, and said the RMT will decide after discussions next week.

Responding to a statement by Network Rail to Sky News Breakfast about the progress of talks, he said: “We’ve got to be very cautious about what they call progress.

“They may be progressing their agenda, but it doesn’t mean that our members are going to accept those changes, just because the company wants them, so we’ve got to work that problem through with them.”

He added: “So it’s likely unless we get a lot of movement provided by the Government that the companies can change their stance that there will be more action, yes.”

He continued: “We’ve not named dates. We’re going to review where we are in the discussions next week, and then we will decide if we need to take more action.

“We have to get two weeks’ notice of strikes anyway, that’s the legislation, so there won’t be any strikes in the next couple of weeks, but we’ll decide that. But we won’t hesitate to use more industrial action if we can’t reach an agreement or if the companies carry through their threats to make people redundant.”

Mick Lynch says ‘there’s a long way to go yet’ in negotiations

08:24 , Sami Quadri

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said “there’s a long way to go yet” in rail company talks, as proposals will “very difficult to take on board” for rail workers.

Speaking to Sky News Breakfast, Mr Lynch said of the talks: “They’ve given us a lot of detail about what they want from what they might call the new modern railway, what we don’t know is how our members are going to respond to that.

“We hear a lot of the changes they want to make, but our members when they hear it will find a lot of the changes very difficult to take on board, so we’ll have to see what the complete package is and then we’ll have to go to our people and consult them in detail to see if they want to accept this package.

“So there’s a long way to go yet. But most of the stuff that our members voted very heavily in favour for action about are what’s on the table now and they’ve not diluted very much the stuff that they want.”

He said issues yet to be resolved include “severe changes to our members’ terms and conditions, they do want to cut thousands of jobs, they want to recontract virtually everyone that works on the railway on a set of terms and conditions and pay that is lower than we currently have, and that in some ways is a form of fire and rehire”.

He added: “They’re saying we either have to adapt and adopt these new practices, or we will lose our jobs in greater numbers than even we thought, so there is still that constant threat to us, of mass job losses, thousands of jobs, new contracts of employment, new working practices, which will be detrimental to our people and we still haven’t got any offer that’s suitable on pay.”

Key rail strike questions answered

08:23 , Sami Quadri

Who is striking?

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Network Rail and 13 train operators are involved in the dispute.

What is the dispute about?

Pay, jobs and conditions.

Jobs are going to be cut and working conditions changed under an efficiency drive, while unions are seeking a pay rise to reflect the cost-of-living crisis.

What are the unions’ pay demands and how much have they been offered?

Network Rail has offered 3%, dependent on efficiencies, while a similar offer is believed to have been made by train operators involved in the row.

Have any other rail companies made offers?

Yes. Merseyrail reached a deal with the TSSA on Wednesday for a 7.1% pay rise, ScotRail has offered 5%, while recent increases have included over 8% for London Underground under a long-term agreement.

Have any other strikes been called?

No. The RMT executive will probably meet next week to decide its next move.

Are any other unions involved in the dispute?

Yes. The TSSA is balloting hundreds of its members at Network Rail and several train companies for industrial action in the same dispute, while members of the drivers union Aslef at Greater Anglia went on strike on Thursday.

What efficiencies are rail bosses seeking?

Many revolve around changes in technology, such as using drones to check rail tracks rather than having workers walking along the line.

Will ticket offices close?

It does appear that many ticket offices will close in the next 18 months, with staff switching to other roles.

RMT Twitter account adds 60,000 followers – but union says ‘not all support us’

07:48 , Sami Quadri

The Twitter account of the union at the centre of the rail workers dispute has added more than 60,000 new followers in the past week.

But the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said not all the new followers are supporters.

The @RMTunion account, which is 13 years old, has attracted huge interest since the row over jobs, pay and conditions flared.

The RMT said: “Not all those followers will support us, or trade unions. However, we must build on this groundswell of support and reject the Tory race to the bottom.”

Meanwhile, an analysis of Google search data reveals that searches for “join union” have increased to their highest level in over a year.

The study, by recruitment experts Workello, showed that searches for the phrase have increased threefold in the past week.

The data also showed that searches for “how to strike” have increased by 135% since the rail strikes began.

Mick Lynch calls Network Rail redundancy notice ‘unacceptable'

07:45 , Bill Mcloughlin

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT, told Sky News: “Network Rail issued a formal redundancy notice last week.

“That’s entirely unacceptable as a step to take in the middle of a negotiation. We won’t take those threats lightly. The best way of avoiding industrial action is by reaching a settlement that suits both parties’ needs.”

He also added that there is “still a long way to go yet” in negotiations.

Mr Lynch said: “There’s a long way to go yet.

“Most of the stuff our members voted very heavily in favour for action about are what’s on the table now and they have not diluted very much of the stuff they want and that’s true of the train operators and Network Rail.”

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