Home » World » Travel chaos looms as rail workers vote overwhelmingly for national strike – World news

Travel chaos looms as rail workers vote overwhelmingly for national strike – World news

Travel chaos looms as rail workers vote overwhelmingly for national strike – World news

A nationwide rail strike has been voted through in a move that threatens travel chaos and could see all trains cancelled after 7pm.

The RMT union announced on Tuesday evening that its 40,000 members, across Network Rail and 13 out of 15 train operators, had voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

These were Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains.

Members at Govia Thameslink (including Gatwick Express) voted against strikes but in favour of other forms of industrial action, while workers on the Isle of Wight’s Island Line (where the union has 30 members) rejected all forms of industrial action.

Union bosses will now decide when to call strikes – potentially starting in just two weeks – which will cripple the rail network.

It means that railways will only be able to open for 12 hours a day, instead of 24 hours. Services would run from 7am and 7pm, sources told The Telegraph.

As many as 80 per cent of routes would be scrapped, with those that remain open running a reduced service.

The union said it was the greatest endorsement for industrial action by railway workers since privatisation, and is believed to be the biggest rail strike since Margaret Thatcher was in office.

A total of 71 per cent of those balloted took part in the vote, with 89 per cent voting in favour of strike action and just 11 per cent voting against.

The union will now be demanding urgent talks with Network Rail and the 15 train operating companies.

‘Members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies’

Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, said: “Today’s overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.

“Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT.”

The decision of train signallers to strike, the first time since the spring of 1998, was critical.

There are about 5,000 train signallers employed by Network Rail and they play a key role in allowing trains to depart from and arrive into stations.

It takes between six and eight months to train up a signaller and the contingency workforce only runs into the high hundreds.

Sources said that mainlines and suburban networks around major cities would prove to be the most resilient as stations in these areas tend to have more up-to-date technology. Many rural and regional stations still rely on Victorian signalling technology.

See also  Paralympic medallist Singharaj, five others denied visas; will miss Para Shooting World Cup in France

‘All disputes have to end in a settlement’

Mr Lynch said earlier on Tuesday the disruption could continue into next year.

“If there’s no settlement, then it will. All disputes have to end in a settlement and we are ready to negotiate that with those employers,” he told TalkTV.

He previously warned that a strike would “bring the country to a standstill”.

Plans to strike are already underway for Transport for London (TfL) staff. As many as 4,000 station staff will strike on Monday June 6, and the union has announced a ban on overtime working from June 3 to July 10, which will significantly reduce London Underground services.

The industrial  action is likely to force the closure of almost all stations in Zone 1 on what will be the first day back to work after the four-day Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

If all 4,000 members opt to strike, TfL may have to consider closing all underground stations for safety reasons.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering discussions.

“Taxpayers across the country contributed £16 billion to keep our railways running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker lost their job.

“The railway is still on life support, with passenger numbers 25% down, and anything that drives away even more of them risks killing services and jobs. Train travel for millions more people is now a choice, not a necessity. Strikes stop our customers choosing rail, and they might never return.

“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.”

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, had urged the unions again on Tuesday to call off the planned strikes. “I’m looking to get this resolved, I want the unions to do that as well, I urge them not to call strikes,” he said. 

“I think it would be completely counterproductive to a railway which frankly is on life support and that could give it a heart attack.”

This is original news content created by Gurpreet Narwan on www.telegraph.co.uk, Newslogic.in or any author at newslogic.in has no rights over this content. This content is auto fetched from the original post, the link to the original post is given below.

Reference link