Train strike: Second national walkout expected to bring mass disruption

Copyright: PA Media

Image caption: RMT general secretary Mick Lynch

The strike has been called by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workerswhose members include everyone from guards and signallers to catering staff and cleaners.

The union says workers – many of whom continued to work throughout the pandemic – have experienced real-terms pay cuts and are now facing a cost-of-living crisis.

He has accused the government of preventing rail companies from negotiating freely on pay.

The union also takes issue with Network Rail’s plans to cut 2,500 maintenance jobs, as it tries to save £2bn over the next two years.

Network Rail says it would offer a pay rise above 3%, but only if the union agrees to modernizing working practices.

Its chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, says about 1,800 jobs were expected to be cut, but the “vast majority” would be through “voluntary severance and natural waste”.

It insists it would not consider any changes that would make the railways less safe and that modernization is needed.

Copyright: Reuters

The government says it is up to the railway companies to negotiate.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that commuters must be ready to “stay the course”, insisting reforms of the rail sector are in the interests of the traveling public.

Downing Street says £16bn of taxpayers’ money was used to support the railways during the Covid pandemic, but with passenger numbers still down by a fifth, and many firms adopting hybrid working, modernization is needed to avoid soaring ticket prices and operators going bust.

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