Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Britain’s railway network is facing its biggest strike in more than three decades this week in a compensation dispute as rising inflation erodes profits.

The RMT rail union has said that over 50,000 workers will go on strike for three days, clashing with key events such as the Glastonbury music festival.

Schools are warning that hundreds of youngsters taking national examinations will be impacted as well.

The RMT claims that the strikes are essential because salaries have not kept pace with inflation, which has reached a 40-year high.

Passenger traffic has failed to fully resume following the removal of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, putting jobs at danger.

Countries throughout the world are experiencing decades-high inflation as a result of the Ukraine crisis and the relaxation of Covid limitations, which are driving up energy and food prices.

According to the RMT, the strikes are scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and are the largest on Britain’s railway network since 1989.
The union has also declared a 24-hour strike of its members on the Tube, London’s subway system, on Tuesday.

Rail operators, on the other hand, have warned of disruption throughout the week, with lines not impacted by the strike decreasing services.

“Talks have not proceeded as far as I had wanted, so we must prepare for an unnecessary national rail strike and the terrible impact it would have,” Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said.

“Despite the RMT’s activities, we and our train operating colleagues are preparing to provide the greatest service possible to passengers and freight customers next week.”

The strikes are anticipated to exacerbate travel turmoil in the aviation industry, which has already seen airlines curtail flights owing to personnel shortages, creating significant delays and aggravation for customers.
Thousands of workers were laid off in the aviation business during the epidemic, but the industry is again battling to find staff as travel demand picks up when the lockdowns are lifted.

A verbal brawl

Over the weekend, the government and the RMT engaged in a verbal spat after the union’s general-secretary Mick Lynch declared that strikes will take place since “no feasible agreements” had been discovered.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accused union leaders of refusing to meet for further discussions on Saturday and instead marching in protest of rising living costs.

Shapps predicted that the interruption would bring “misery” and compel hospital patients to postpone appointments, while students taking examinations would suffer additional stress from having to rearrange their travel arrangements.
“By taking this action, the RMT is punishing millions of innocent people rather than quietly debating the pragmatic and essential reforms we need to implement to secure our train network,” he continued.

He stated that modernising the train network was vital as travel patterns changed, notably after the epidemic.

“If there is no resolution, we will continue our campaign,” he said on Sky News on Sunday, expecting additional strikes as other transportation unions balloted their members.
The RMT was not seeking preferential treatment, but a settlement was required since members had not received a salary increase in some years, he noted.

“If we don’t play our hand,” he warned, “thousands of our members would lose their jobs,” and network security will be jeopardised.

The government was “just as cruel as P&O, but they don’t have agency employees to come in,” he continued, alluding to the ferry operator’s major layoffs earlier this year.

By adele rose

Adele Rose is the senior editor and employee of WGBS Pvt Ltd Digital wing.

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