Network Rail in latest attempt to stop UK train strike causing chaos | rail transport

Network Rail bosses say they plan to hold more talks with union leaders today in a last-ditch attempt to stave off the biggest rail strike in more than three decades.

More than 40,000 rail workers are due to leave on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Only about half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days, with very limited service on open lines.

A source from Network Rail said: “We’re in the room talking and there’s been some movement. The chances are slim, but there is some hope.”

In his strongest comments yet on the impending strike action, labor leader Keir Starmer will say that strikes must not go ahead. He would use a speech at a conference on Sunday to accuse ministers of “throwing gasoline on the fire” to fuel a divisive dispute.

Network Rail has made some progress in negotiations planned to continue at its London headquarters on Sunday afternoon with the rail, maritime and transport (RMT) union. However, union leaders indicated on Saturday that there was almost no chance of a last-minute breakthrough in negotiations over wages, jobs and conditions.

Mick Lynch, secretary general of the RMT, said that “no viable agreement” had been presented and that the strikes would continue. He said thousands of jobs are being cut and workers face wage increases below inflation.

Network Rail offered a 2% salary increase, backdated to January, plus two further increases during the year of 0.5%, each linked to productivity and efficiency gains. Union negotiators want wage increases to match inflation.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “I’m serious about trying to find a solution and come to an agreement that gives our people a decent pay rise, but it has to be affordable for taxpayers and fare payers.

“Our offers so far have been rejected, with union demands far from being accessible. We will continue to talk and try to find a way to prevent this unnecessary and harmful attack.” He said he was surprised that RMT was scrapping the negotiations before they were completed.

The strike involves Network Rail employees and 13 train operating companies in the biggest dispute over the network since 1989.

Even if a last-minute deal was struck over Network Rail workers, the employees employed by the rail companies would still go on strike. There will also be a 24-hour strike on the London Underground on Tuesday. There will be no passenger services to stations across Britain if strikes continue, including Penzance, Bournemouth, Hastings, Holyhead, Blackpool and Hull. Routes that are open will operate a very limited service from 7:30am to 6:30pm.

Passengers are being advised by train companies to travel only if necessary, with most passengers working from home on strike days.

Glastonbury Festival on Deck
Glastonbury festival goers are among those likely to be affected. Photography: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

With good weather forecast for many areas this week, the action is expected to disrupt several summer events, including the Glastonbury festival, the British Athletics Championships in Manchester and the third test match between England and New Zealand in Headingley, Leeds.

Industry group UK Hospitality warned on Saturday that the railway strikes are likely to cost the tourism, leisure and theater industries more than £1 billion.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality, told Times Radio that tourism and leisure businesses that were already fragile after the pandemic lockdowns would take a “big blow”.

Some A-level and GCSE exams are being held on action days. The Department of Education said it does not expect any exams to be rescheduled because of the action and has advised students and teachers traveling by train to consider alternative travel arrangements.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said the government has repeatedly asked the RMT to resolve the dispute at the negotiating table. He said on Saturday: “Unfortunately, they ignored these requests, and now we are on the verge of a major disruption that will cause misery for people across the country.

“Many people who don’t get paid if they can’t work face losing money at a time they just can’t afford it.

“RMT is punishing millions of innocent people rather than calmly discussing the sensible and necessary reforms we need to make to protect our rail network.”

RMT bosses are expected to negotiate with Network Rail and train company bosses on salary agreements, but says the Treasury is “dealing the cards”. Shapps last week rejected a call to meet with union leaders, saying the negotiations were rightly being conducted by employers.

O Observer understands that Network Rail has been given a negotiation mandate and government structure. Once any agreement is agreed, it is likely that a similar mandate will be given to the train companies.

Starmer is expected to use a speech at the Labor Local Government Association’s annual conference in Coventry to accuse ministers of preferring to use strike action for political attacks, effectively encouraging them to move forward.

“Companies will struggle with shipping. School exams will be hard to come by. There are no appointments at the hospital,” says Starmer. “That’s why I said strikes shouldn’t happen. But here’s the truth. Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps want strikes to continue. They want the country to stop so they can feed on the division.

“Instead of spending their time this week around the negotiating table, they are designing attack ads. Instead of adult conversations to take the heat out of the situation, they are pouring gasoline on the fire. Instead of uniting people in the national interest, they are fueling division in their political interest.”

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the rail industry, says the government has committed more than £16bn to keep railways running during the pandemic and reforms were needed to draw passengers back onto the network.

A spokesperson for the RDG said: “Nobody wins in the event of a strike. Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant outages will be unavoidable and some parts of the network will not be serviced, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check bus timetables. trains.”

Which sectors are likely to be affected by the strike action?

Transport

A second rail union, the Association of Salaried Transport Employees, notified Network Rail’s 6,000 employee vote for industrial action for a pay increase to reflect the cost-of-living crisis. In the event of a yes vote, the strike can take place from Monday, July 25th, the week the Commonwealth Games start in Birmingham.

local government

The three local government unions representing the council’s 1.4 million workers have made a joint submission to the local government for wage increases at the retail price index rate, currently at 11.1% or a £2,000 wage increase, the whichever is bigger.

Public workers

The Public and Commercial Services Union, the largest public service union, is expected to vote its members on union action later this year on the 2022-23 salary proposals. He is calling for a 10% national salary increase.
teachers

The National Education Union, which represents 460,000 members, has pledged to vote in the summer or fall if it does not guarantee salary increases for general teachers of at least 8%.

Medical team

Junior doctors in England say their salaries have dropped by 22% on real teams since 2008-09. The doctors’ union, the British Medical Association, says it will vote on industrial action by early 2023 if the requirement to restore junior doctors’ pay is not met. The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a salary premium for nurses of 5% above inflation, but the government has asked to cap any salary increase for 2022-23 at 3%.

Lawyers

The results of a vote of 2,400 criminal lawyers will be announced tomorrow in strike action. Criminal trials may be halted with possible exits from Monday, June 27.

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