Rail strike risk over pay not unreasonable, says union

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A rail staff’ union has mentioned its calls for for a pay rise are “not unreasonable”, after its members voted to carry a nationwide strike.

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The RMT Union mentioned some railway staff have had their pay frozen for 3 years.

On Tuesday, RMT members at observe operator Network Rail and 13 prepare working corporations voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike motion.

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The Department for Transport mentioned strikes must be the final resort.

A spokesperson mentioned: “It is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering discussions.”

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The prospect of a nationwide strike threatens main summer season travel disruption throughout the UK.

Eddie Dempsey, assistant common secretary at RMT, advised the BBC that a few of their members “are in the third year of a pay freeze this year”.

“Don’t forget we kept this country moving during the pandemic, we’ve tightened our belts, we haven’t had a pay rise. At the same time, the private companies made bumper profits,” he mentioned.

Mr Dempsey mentioned the union is asking for a pay rise, job safety and no obligatory redundancies.

“That’s not unreasonable in the current day and age is it,” he mentioned.

The RMT union has mentioned its leaders will meet to debate a timetable for strike motion from mid-June.

Mr Dempsey mentioned he hoped a deal might nonetheless be reached, including that the union “urgently” wanted to sit down down with trade and with the federal government.

“The quicker we do that, the quicker we can get a settlement, and hopefully we won’t have to take the next step of announcing strike action.”

Tony Miles, a author for Modern Railways journal, advised the BBC that there could also be some public sympathy for RMT members if no pay rise is obtainable, particularly given the price of living disaster.

But he warned that sympathy may need limits.

“If the RMT’s members are offered something that sounds acceptable, and they end up holding out a lot longer, I think that won’t play well with the public, especially when you consider there will be passengers who haven’t also hadn’t had pay increases or are also struggling to pay bills,” he mentioned.

“If it looks like unions are trying to hold country to ransom, public mood might turn sour very quickly.”

Train on platform with departure passengers

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The strike poll of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers noticed 89% vote in favour of a strike and 11% in opposition to. Some 71% of RMT’s 40,000 members voted.

Workers at Network Rail, which maintains the UK’s railway infrastructure, haven’t taken half in a nationwide strike since 1994.

The union mentioned the corporate deliberate to shed 2,500 upkeep jobs because it tried to make £2bn of financial savings over the following two years.

If Network Rail workers, which embody signallers, stroll out, it would have an effect on each passenger companies and the motion of products by prepare, together with bulk consignments of gasoline and a few meals, consultants say.

Trains would possibly solely run for a part of the day, comparable to from 07:00 to 19:00 BST and solely on primary strains. Services may be decreased to round a fifth of the traditional weekday timetable, they add.

The Department for Transport mentioned the RMT’s vote in favour of strike motion “threatens to pull the plug on the life support that has kept the [railway] network alive”.

The spokesperson added: “We urge the RMT to reconsider and accept the invitation of industry talks, so we can find a solution that delivers for workers, passengers and taxpayers alike.

“If they do not, they not solely danger irreparable injury to our railways however to our economic system and nation too.”

Disruption warnings

There are warnings that any potential strikes could have a major impact on rail freight and the sector’s ability to move goods around the UK.

John Smith, chief executive of GB Railfreight, said if the disruption ends up being long term, the effects would be “dramatic”.

“It will crystallise in numerous methods, whether or not it’s scarcity of gasoline on the pumps, whether or not it’s manufacturing being stopped in factories of automobiles, whether or not it’s electrical energy era or Drax having to change off and never having the ability to generate electrical energy,” he mentioned.

Trains running side-by-side

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Trade body UKHospitality has also warned that a national rail strike could jeopardise the hospitality industry’s recovery from the pandemic.

Its chief executive Kate Nicholls said: Strikes would inevitably damage our already fragile hospitality businesses, which would have a negative knock-on effect to the wider UK economy.”

She added: “A lack of commuter trains bringing people into towns and cities will further set back the recovery of our high streets and will also deter people from going out in the evening – especially women and vulnerable people who may rely on trains to get them home and feel safe late at night.”

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