Network rail strike: Government urges union to call off nationwide action

·3-min read
Network rail strike: Government urges union to call off nationwide action

Downing Street has urged RMT bosses to call off Wednesday’s latest round of rail strikes, warning that the walk out will cause nationwide disruption.

Unless a last minute deal can be reached, around 40,000 Network Rail workers affiliated to the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) are expected to walk out, grinding services run by 14 operators to a halt.

The RMT was understood to be holding talks with Network Rail on Monday in a bid to try and avert the strikes.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said on Monday: “We are concerned about the impact this will have on the public going about their everyday lives.

“We will continue to call on the RMT to call off these strikes. It is in their gift to prevent this disruption.”

Travellers have been warned to plan ahead with a limited timetable expected and only 20 per cent of normal services running.

The companies affected by the RMT strikes are: Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Transport for London (TfL) has said while the industrial action does not involve its staff, varying degrees of disruption are expected on the District and Bakerloo Tube lines, London Overground, and the Elizabeth line, which all share some sections of track with Network Rail.

Customers are being urged to check before they travel and passengers should also expect some disruption on the morning of July 28, with a later start to services as signalling staff return to work. Another two days of industrial action are planned on August 18 and 20.

RMT members are striking because of a bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.

Network Rail had made a new pay offer earlier this month, aimed at breaking the deadlock, but the offer of a 4 per cent pay rise backdated to January, another 2 per cent next year and a further 2 per cent conditional on achieving “modernisation milestones” was rejected.

On Monday RMT general secretary Mick Lynch maintained his demands for a fairer pay offer, saying: “I want a pay rise for everyone in this country and this economy. And what’s happening is the rich are getting richer, profits are being maintained and even accelerated while workers are getting poorer and that cannot be right.”

But the Prime Minister’s spokesman added: “We have offered a generous pay deal to the unions. I think you have heard from bosses of Network Rail about some of the measures we believe are outdated and not suitable for a modern workplace. These are the sorts of things Network Rail is trying to address to ensure our railways are protected for the future.”

The strike will affect passengers travelling for holidays or attending events such as the Women's Euro 2022 semi-final in Milton Keynes on July 27, and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham the following day.

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