Rail strikes could escalate if no deal can be agreed, the RMT’s general secretary has warned.
Mick Lynch said he can’t see Saturday’s strike being avoided as train passengers were urged to travel only if necessary today on the second day of RMT walkout on Britain’s railways.
Asked about the walkout on the weekend, he told Sky News: “It’s a tough job. It will take a lot of progress to get that strike off. I can’t see that happening today from where I am, but we will work constructively with the companies.”
The union confirmed industrial action would go ahead as planned after talks between the union, Network Rail and train operators hit a stumbling block once again on Wednesday afternoon.
At least 40,000 RMT members will picket amid an ongoing dispute over redundancies and real-term pay cuts. The railway will run at 20 per cent capacity, with many of the last inter-city trains set to leave in mid-afternoon.
The London Tube is mostly not affected though the new Elizabeth line and the London Overground, both of which use national rail lines, will be. Commuters are being told to complete their journeys on both lines by 6pm. Disruption is expected to continue into Friday.
Travellers urged not to book BA flight this summer
18:15 , Daniel Keane
Travellers are not advised to book a British Airways flight this summer "at this stage", a GMB national officer said after BA workers based at Heathrow voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
Nadine Houghton told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "I would imagine there will be action during the summer holidays".
Asked if she would book a flight in late July, August or early September, she replied: "Not at this stage".
She said the union's members have faced a 10% pay cut as a result of BA's "unethical approach during the pandemic".
"They want that pay to be reinstated".
British Airways responds to GMB strike
15:23 , Bill Mcloughlin
British Airways has responded to the news its staff at Heathrow Airport will strike.
A statement from the airine reads: “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.
“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4billion, we made an offer of a 10 per cent payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.
“We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team.
“We will of course keep our customers updated about what this means for them as the situation evolves.”
BA workers to strike
14:58 , Miriam Burrell
British Airways workers based at Heathrow have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay, the GMB and Unite unions announced.
Some 95 per cent of balloted staff voted in favour of a strike. Turnout was 81 per cent, the union said.
The move threatens to bring more disruption to travellers who have suffered months of delays at airports and flight cancellations due to staff shortages.
Rail strikes ‘crippling’ the UK, Sturgeon says
14:01 , Miriam Burrell
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told the UK Government to have “respect” for workers by resolving the train dispute that is “crippling” the UK.
During First Minister’s Questions she said: “[Workers] are paying the price for Tory anti-trade union rhetoric, in fact, anti-trade unionism which I completely deprecate.
“We should respect public sector workers and we should seek to negotiate fair resolution to disputes, particularly at a time of inflation – inflation being exacerbated in the UK by the folly of Brexit.
“So let me repeat the call today for the UK Government to start doing their job to get round the table to bring a resolution to this.”
Pictured: RMT union members picket in the rain outside King’s Cross station
13:31 , Miriam Burrell
Theatre, live music and hospitality suffering amid strikes
13:22 , Miriam Burrell
Nighttime industries are suffering in the wake of rail strikes and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nighttime Industries Association (NITA) said.
Rail strikes have had a devastating impact on the theatre, live music and hospitality industries, it said, with 81 percent of London theatregoers choosing to use public transport and a similair proportion of hospitality customers.
There is an estimated loss of up to 40 percent in trade from the strikes.
Simon Thomas, executive chairman of Leicester Square’s Hippodrome Casino, said: “First Covid, then omicron, now we’ve got the RMT variant. The West End was well on the mend and this strike threatens to push thousands of businesses back into intensive care.”
Johnson: ‘The strikes are a terrible idea'
12:40 , Miriam Burrell
The Prime Minister has said rail strikes this week are “unnecessary” and a “terrible idea”.
Speaking from Rwanda, Boris Johnson said people “should get around the table and sort it out”.
He claimed the Government has invested more in railways than any previous Government in the last 50 years.
“We have got to have some sensible reforms and that is things like reforming ticket offices – I did a huge amount of that when I was running London.
“It is stuff that maybe the union barons are more attached to perhaps than their workers.”
More railway workers to vote on strikes
12:24 , Miriam Burrell
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) is warning of a “fast-approaching summer of discontent” if the Government doesn’t make a reasonable offer for members at TransPennine Express (TPE).
It served notice to ballot dozens of members for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security. The earliest that industrial action could be taken is July 27.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The Department for Transport should either give TransPennine and other companies the signal to make us a reasonable offer, or ministers should come to the negotiating table and speak to us directly.
“The alternative is a fast-approaching summer of discontent across our rail network.”
RMT union: ‘Public on our side’
11:46 , Miriam Burrell
Rail workers picketing at Eustion station said they have been inundated with food and water gifted from members of the public.
“The public is definitely on our side, I’ve never seen so much support from the public,” RMT regional organiser Kathy Mazur said.
“Tuesday, the amount of food we had, we were giving away to the homeless people. Really, really great support from the public.”
RMT assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey said he expects other workers to demand an increase in pay.
“Teachers, they’re facing a cost-of-living crisis, (also) posties, telecoms workers, health workers. We think there’s going to be more demands for increases in pay in the economy and we think that’s right.”
Glastonbury Festival goers brave trains at Paddington
11:32 , Miriam Burrell
Glastonbury Festival punters Becky Moriarty, Jared Hill and Rory Leighton (left to right) are catching the train at Paddington Station in London.
Although strike action is taking place during the Glastonbury Festival, Great Western Railway will continue to operate trains between Castle Cary and London Paddington.
Find out how to travel to Glastonbury Festival during the train strikes here.
‘Millions’ more people working from home
11:11 , Miriam Burrell
Millions more Brits are working from home this week due to the nationwide rail strikes, according to Virgin Media O2.
The broadband provider saw a peak 5 percent week-on-week lift in its upstream traffic on Tuesday, due to an increase of video calls on platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Pictured: People wait for trains at Liverpool Street Station
10:54 , Miriam Burrell
Elizabeth Line partly closes after vandalism
10:38 , Miriam Burrell
There’s more disruption for Elizabeth Line passengers today, but this time it’s vandalism.
Commuters heading towards Shenfield will have to change at Liverpool Street for the Central Line, then back to the Elizabeth Line at Stratford to continue their journey.
“Somebody threw something on the track between Stratford and Liverpool Street,” one staff member said at Liverpool Street station.
“I don’t know why, some people are just not OK.”
London road congestion higher than same time last week
10:30 , Miriam Burrell
TomTom figures show the level of road congestion at 9am in London was higher than the same time last week.
But congestion levels remained lower or relatively stable in other cities.
In London, congestion levels increased from 75 percent on June 16 to 83 percent on Thursday.
But in Glasgow congestion levels fell from 40 to 36 percent, and in Liverpool levels fell slightly from 49 percent to 47 percent.
In Manchester, congestion levels rose from 64 to 66 percent.
Rail strikes impact holidaymakers’ journeys to London’s airports
09:59 , Elly Blake
Crowds of holidaymakers fretted about missing their flights as train delays left them stuck at London’s Liverpool Street station.
The Stansted Express normally leaves twice an hour from Britain’s third-busiest station, but strike action has reduced this down to one.
One man, who was returning to Sofia in Bulgaria after three days in London, complained in broken English that the experience was “stressful”.
Asked how much longer he expected to wait, the man – who had been stranded at the station for half an hour – said: “I don’t know, I’m just looking at the board, I hope not too long.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating because I’m here on holidays, but it’s a bit stressful”.
Pictured: Passengers pass through Waterloo station
09:12 , Elly Blake
Labour MP joins picket line outside Liverpool Lime Street
08:45 , Elly Blake
Labour MP for Birkenhead Mick Whitley joined RMT members on a picket line outside Liverpool Lime Street station.
He said: “I think every Labour MP should come out. Let’s have it right, the Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement and they are our political voice in Parliament so every Labour MP should be out.”
He said a pay deal reached with Merseyrail reinforced the argument that the Government was “manufacturing the dispute”.
He added: “We don’t want to mess up people’s travel arrangements but if you’re pushed into a corner you have got to do something.”
Rail Delivery Group chair: Hopefully nobody requires to be made compulsory redundant
08:21 , Elly Blake
Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, was asked by BBC Breakfast why rail workers are not being given a guarantee that reforms will not lead to compulsory redundancies.
He replied: “What we don’t understand until we start the reform process and we agree the key principles … is how far the reform will be allowed to go.
“If we put voluntary severance out to people, how many people will take that voluntary severance?
“How many people can we retrain and put on to other jobs?”
He added: “We believe that once we work through with the reform, that we can hopefully accommodate everybody who wants to stay within the organisation.
“So, we just need to get through the processes and see how many people are left, and hopefully nobody requires to be made compulsory redundant.”
Pictured: Picket line at Victoria station
08:19 , Elly Blake
Pictured: Travel chaos as rail strikes hit second day
08:10 , Elly Blake
Union boss accuses government of interfering with negotiations
08:06 , Elly Blake
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has accused the Governmet of being a “silent partner” at the negotiating table.
Mr Lynch said the government has negatively influenced talks to try and negotiate pay, jobs and conditions for RMT members, which has meant the strikes has gone ahead.
On Thursday, thousands of railway workers are staging the second industrial action this week, with another planned for Saturday, June 25.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “The Government's hand is in this and they are a silent partner at the table.
“The companies leave the room go and consult the government ministers and departmental officials and when they come back, often the situation is worse than when we took the adjournment.
“There's a third party at these meetings and they are influencing it in a very negative way.”
Pictured: Queues on platforms for the few trains running from Victoria
07:16 , Elly Blake
Victoria station ‘like a ghost town'
07:02 , Elly Blake
Standard reporter John Dunne said the “normally bustling Victoria station was like a ghost town this morning”.
It comes as the second RMT strike action of the week crippled services to and from the capital.
More strikes on the way...? This time, in education
06:54 , Elly Blake
Ministers were warned on Thursday to “hear the anger of teachers” or risk a walk-out from classrooms later this year.
Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the National Education Union, dismissed a proposed 3 per cent pay rise as “completely inadequate”.
She also stressed the “standard of education goes through the floor” without teachers.
Read the full article here.
What rail reforms are the Government proposing?
06:44 , Elly Blake
The Government has announced plans to change the law to enable businesses to supply skilled agency workers to plug staffing gaps during industrial action.
Ministers pointed out that under current trade union laws, employment businesses are restricted from supplying temporary agency workers to cover for strikers, saying it can have a “disproportionate impact”.
The legislation will repeal the “burdensome” legal restrictions, giving businesses impacted by strike action the freedom to tap into the services of employment businesses who can provide skilled, temporary agency staff at short notice, said the government.
Who is striking?
06:42 , Elly Blake
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators will take industrial action, crippling services across the UK.
These are: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, c2c, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, LNER, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
Only around one in five trains will run and mainly on main lines during the day.
Tube workers are not striking although some TfL services are affected.
06:37 , Elly Blake
Welcome to our rail strike live blog as thousands of railway workers stage a second strike this week.
We will be bringing you live updates from in and around the capital.