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Rail and Tube strikes to go ahead after talks fail to resolve dispute

Rail services will be hit by strikes next week (Steve Parsons/PA)
Rail services will be hit by strikes next week (Steve Parsons/PA)

Union leaders have confirmed that next week’s rail and Tube strikes will go ahead after talks failed to resolve a bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said it had held discussions in the past few weeks at senior levels with Network Rail, train operators and London Underground.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: “Despite the best efforts of our negotiators no viable settlements to the disputes have been created.”

INDUSTRY Rail
(PA Graphics)

He confirmed that strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators will go ahead on Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday, and on London Underground on Tuesday.

The action by tens of thousands of rail workers will cripple services for most of the week.

Mr Lynch said: “It has to be restated that the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory Government to cut £4bn of funding from our transport systems – £2bn from national rail and £2bn from Transport for London.

“As a result of this transport austerity imposed by the Government, the employing companies have taken decisions to savage the Railway Pension Scheme and the Transport for London scheme, cutting benefits, making staff work longer, and poorer in retirement, while paying increased contributions.”

Mr Lynch said thousands of jobs were being cut across the rail networks and workers were facing below-inflation pay rises.

Rail strike
Mick Lynch, pictured at the RMT headquarters in Euston, urged working people to back the strike (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“In the face of this massive attack on our people the RMT cannot be passive.

“So today, having heard the reports on the discussions that have been taking place we are confirming that the strike action scheduled to take place on 21st, 23rd and 25th June will go ahead.

“We want a transport system that operates for the benefit of the people, for the needs of society and our environment – not for private profit.

“We call on the entire labour movement and the working people to rally to the support of the RMT and our members in this struggle.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “No one wins in the event of a strike.

“The action next week will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and people attending important business and leisure events.

“Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is going ahead with industrial action.

“The Government committed £16 billion – to keep our railways running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker lost their job.

“The railway is still on life support, with passenger numbers 25% down and anything that drives away even more of them risks killing services and jobs.

“Train travel for millions more people is now a choice, not a necessity. Strikes stop our customers choosing rail, and they might never return.

“We urge the RMT to reconsider so we can find a solution that delivers for workers, passengers and taxpayers alike.”

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “I’m surprised that the RMT union are dismissing talks before we’ve even finished, with more planned for tomorrow (Sunday).

“I’m serious about trying to find a solution and work out a compromise that gives our people a decent pay rise, but it has to be affordable for taxpayers and fare payers.

“Our offers have so far been rejected, with union demands far from being affordable. We will continue to talk and to try and find a way through and avert this needless and damaging strike.”

The RDG spokesperson added: “We are acutely aware of the cost-of-living pressures being felt by workers and families across the UK.

“Every business wants to support their staff and the railway is no exception.

“But, as an industry we have to change our ways of working and improve productivity to help pay our own way – the alternatives of asking taxpayers to shoulder the burden or passengers to pay higher fares when they too are feeling the pinch, simply isn’t fair.”

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