Railway unions may join forces to wreak havoc over pay row
Fears of a summer super-strike grow: Railway unions may join forces to wreak havoc over pay row in latest blow for getaway plans
- RMT boss Mick Lynch urged rail workers to gear up for ‘the fight of our lifetime’
- He primed 50,000 members for a summer of walkouts as cost of living bites
- Train drivers’ union boss said government can stop a summer of discontent
- Strikes may hit the Commonwealth Games and holidaymakers on July 22
Fears of a summer of crippling ‘super strikes’ on the railways grew yesterday as three union barons threatened co-ordinated walkouts.
RMT boss Mick Lynch rallied rail workers by urging them to gear up for ‘the fight of our lifetime’ in an incendiary speech at the union’s AGM.
In a sign that talks with rail bosses have broken down, he said pay offers ‘do not take into account the cost of living crisis’ and primed 50,000 members for a summer of walkouts. He also accused industry bosses of threatening to further roll out driver-only trains.
Mick Whelan, boss of the train drivers’ union Aslef, told the Daily Mail: ‘It’s up to Grant Shapps, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to ensure there isn’t a summer of discontent on Britain’s railways.
RMT boss Mick Lynch rallied rail workers by urging them to gear up for ‘the fight of our lifetime’ in a speech at the union’s AGM
‘It’s not up to Aslef or our train drivers, who merely want to ensure they can pay the bills this year. If you don’t want a summer of discontent, come and talk to us.’ The results for ballots on strike action among up to 20,000 drivers for ten train operators will start to come in next week. The union must give at least a fortnight of notice for any walkouts. But this means it could start ordering strikes for the last week of July or first week of August.
The RMT is also eyeing up this window because it would hit the Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 28 in Birmingham, and holidaymakers when schools break up on July 22.
Manuel Cortes of the TSSA, a third rail union, said all three could act together: ‘It’s not inconceivable we will walk out at the same time. Our message to the Government and to the railway bosses is, they have a few weeks to try and resolve these issues.’
TSSA workers for operator Avanti West Coast voted in favour of walkouts last week. It is also balloting workers from ten other train operators and Network Rail.
Collectively the three unions represent around 90,000 rail workers. They are demanding salary increases of at least 7 per cent and want a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
The Union boss said pay offers ‘do not take into account the cost of living crisis’ and primed 50,000 members for a summer of walkouts up and down the country
During the last wave of strikes two weeks ago, RMT members walked out and chaos was largely avoided thanks to commuters choosing to work from home. Rail bosses managed to keep around one fifth of services running on strike days. But walkouts from all three unions would cause much greater disruption, with as few as one in ten trains running.
The RMT has officially been offered a pay rise package of 3 per cent by Network Rail. It has been told this can increase if it accepts more modern working practices.
Pay talks will resume on Monday after the union’s AGM this week.
Speaking at the meeting in Birmingham yesterday, Mr Lynch said: ‘They are trying to cut thousands of jobs and they have no scruples in cutting back on safety regimes in order to do so. And they are seeking to make our members poor with below inflation pay offers which do not take into account the cost of living crisis.’
A Network Rail spokesman said last night: ‘Our people deserve a decent pay rise but we are struggling to afford one.’
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