Train strikes heavily affect services – as Mick Lynch accuses government of preventing settlement

Train strikes heavily affect services - as Mick Lynch accuses government of preventing settlement

The head of the largest union for rail workers has accused the government of stopping an agreement to resolve the ongoing dispute about jobs, pay, and working conditions.

As a result of this disagreement, train passengers faced more disruption on Saturday as workers went on strike once again.

Thousands of staff from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out for the day, and passengers were told to check the latest information before travelling.

The strike has caused significant changes in services across the country – with trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual.

In certain areas, only about half of the usual train services are operating, while other regions have had no train services available at all.

Staff from 14 rail firms took part – and it follows two days of similar action earlier this month.

Train passengers face weeks of disruption over summer holidays

The union has been involved in the dispute for more than a year, but there has been no progress towards a resolution.

The situation has been aggravated by contentious proposals to shut down most ticket offices.

On Saturday, picket lines were set up outside railway stations across England and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the long-running strike action still had strong backing from the public.

Train strikes heavily affect services - as Mick Lynch accuses government of preventing settlement

‘The public is being ripped off’

Mr Lynch said the decision to close ticket offices will only save around £89m – a “tiny fraction” of the £1bn he claims has been spent by the government to “artificially keep the dispute going and prevent a settlement”.

“The public is being ripped off not only to financially underwrite this dispute that could have been settled 18 months ago but also to fund the closure of ticket offices which they rely on,” Mr Lynch said.

“Closing 1,000 ticket offices will only save a small fraction of the money spent on rail company indemnity, to prolong the strike and the handsome profits they have made.

“Ticket office closures are not popular with the public and we have seen mass opposition across the country,” he added.

In a message to families whose summer holiday plans have been impacted by the latest walkout, the RMT senior assistant general secretary said: “We need to stand together rather than fight each other.”

Speaking from a picket line outside Euston Station in London, Eddie Dempsey told the PA news agency: “What I’d say to them is, if they’re honest, people are going to find it difficult on a strike day.”

Mr Lynch said earlier: “The issues are the same. They’re attacking our jobs. They’re making redundancies. They’re closing services.

“We haven’t had a pay rise for four years and the people that remain, they want to cut our conditions and issue new contracts of employment.

“There is not an agreement in sight at the moment but we remain available for negotiation with the companies and with the government – but that’s up to them to invite us back to the table so that we can work up some solutions to the dispute.”

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The Department for Transport said it had listened to unions and made offers on pay and reforms.

“The union leaders should put these fair and reasonable offers to their members so this dispute can be resolved,” said a spokesperson.

More disruption to summer holidays

Train drivers from the Aslef union are also due to stop overtime next month in their own pay dispute – raising the likelihood of further travel problems.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesman said the strike would disrupt the plans of families during the summer holidays.

“This will lead to disappointment, frustration, and financial strain for tens of thousands of people.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and understand the impact on individuals and businesses. Our advice is to check before you travel.”

Train strikes heavily affect services - as Mick Lynch accuses government of preventing settlement

Louise Haigh, shadow transport secretary, has sent a message to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, urging him to “get back to work” and engage in discussions with rail unions and operators to resolve the strikes.

Labour stated that the transport secretary has not met with either of the two rail unions at the centre of the rail strikes since before Christmas last year.

Ms Haigh said: “The fact that Mark Harper has refused to do his job whilst the British public have faced over a year of rail chaos is unacceptable.

“The very least we should expect from the transport secretary is to sit down with the unions and rail operators, to try and reach an agreement to end these strikes for good.

“The fact he has failed to do even that means we can safely add the transport secretary to the list of things that do not work in Britain any more.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “Throughout this year of industrial action, the RMT has not only refused to put a pay deal to its members which would give all staff a pay rise as well as giving job security guarantees, but they are also holding up pay rises and job security guarantees for hundreds of other staff.

“Our offer remains on the table should the RMT wish to continue national discussions so we can secure a thriving long-term future for the railways.”


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