The biggest rail strike in a generation is under way after last-ditch talks failed to reach agreement.
Entire towns and cities are now cut off from the train network as strike action closes half of Britain’s rail lines.
Huge swathes of Britain were without any rail services on Tuesday, with further strikes also taking place on Thursday and Saturday, as 40,000 RMT members walk out in a dispute over pay and jobs. Network Rail confirmed on Wednesday that about 80 per cent of services would have to be scrapped.
Commuters are being told not to travel by train as the entire network is crippled by the largest strike in more than 30 years.
Tens of thousands of rail and Tube workers are walking out in what has been described as the “biggest outbreak of industrial action in the UK since 1989”. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union announced it had organised a separate strike on the railways and London Underground.
Union bosses claimed that they would “shut down the system”, with the major disruption expected to impact events including Glastonbury Festival and the British Athletics Championships.
When are the strikes happening?
- Tuesday June 21
- Thursday June 23
- Saturday June 25
The walk-out began on Tuesday, with as many as 50,000 railway workers on strike and services across Network Rail and the London Underground affected.
As many as 40,000 workers on railway services will then strike again on Thursday, June 23, and Saturday, June 25, according to the RMT union.
However, union bosses said the action was due to affect rail services “for the entire week where the three days of action have been called”. This is because trains may not be at the right stations after the walk-outs take place.
Rail union TSSA union is balloting Network Rail staff later this month for strike action that could start on Monday, July 25 – around the time of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We could be seeing a summer of discontent across our railways if Network Rail don’t see sense and come to the table to face the concerns of their staff.
“Fat cat bosses have so far refused these completely reasonable requests, leaving us with no option other than to ballot for industrial action, something which is always a last resort.”
Which rail operators will be affected?
Only a fifth of mainline rail services are expected to be running over the three-day strike period in June. The rail services disrupted are:
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- Greater Anglia
- East Midlands Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- Great Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- Avanti West Coast
- West Midlands Trains
TSSA’s action with Network Rail would have a broader impact on services. It has members in engineering, maintenance, supervisory, control and management roles.
What are workers striking over?
Rail workers have voted to strike after a row with Network Rail over pay freezes and proposed job cuts. RMT claims that as many as 2,500 jobs are at risk and that workers have been subject to years of pay freezes.
TSSA is demanding no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no changes to terms and conditions unless they are agreed with staff, and pay increases that keep up with inflation.
RMT General Secretary Mike Lynch said of the action: “We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze.”
National Rail has responded by saying the union “must recognise we are a public body and any pay increase has to be affordable for taxpayers”.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “We cannot expect to take more than our fair share of public funds, and so we must modernise our industry to put it on a sound financial footing for the future. Failure to modernise will only lead to industry decline and more job losses in the long run.”