The British rail strike — led by more than a dozen train operators and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail — immediately cut train service to about 20% capacity while services have been scaled back to daylight hours only.
Frustrated passengers in England, Scotland and Wales are dealing with severe disruption in what is the largest rail strike in 30 years as they scramble to find transport alternatives for their daily commutes.
Up to 40,000 staffers are staging a walkout on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week in a protest over inflationary pay and job security. This week’s strike will shut down most of the UK’s rail network, bringing the country to a complete standstill.
Only about 4,500 of the usual 20,000 daily services are expected to run. The London Underground was also mostly closed due to a separate strike, leaving passengers chaotically looking for other modes of transport to get them into and around the city.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson long faced pressure to do more to help British households facing the toughest economic hit in decades amid the cost-of-living crisis.
He said the rail strikes will heavily impact businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic, claiming unions are harming the very people they claim to be helping? The RMT, which represents rail staffers, is calling for a pay raise of at least 7%.
Labor unions claim the strikes are justified and could mark the start of a summer of discontent as a result of surging food and fuel prices pushing inflation toward 10%.
Unions say the government, which sets the rules for train companies, failed to give firms enough to offer a significant pay increase. The dead hand of this Tory government is all over this dispute.
The union said employers offered just 2%, with the possibility of 1% more but only if workers accept proposed job cuts. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government would change the law to force train operators to deliver a minimum service on strike days.
What we will do in the future is we’ll make sure we’ve put in some additional protections in place for the traveling public, for example through minimal service levels, he told Sky News.
That would mean on a day like today, a certain level of service would still have to be run and through changes to allow for transferable workers, that’s a much quicker change we could take.
Several airports scrapped flights in an attempt to reduce delays over the strike, meaning Brits going abroad now face rail and airline strikes at the same time.
The strike comes amid several weeks of discord over low pay and poor working conditions as Britons continue to feel the crush of a worldwide inflation crisis.
In mid-December, RMT — which is the country’s biggest rail union — rejected a pay offer from the government, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying the government had been fair and reasonable in its approach to agreeing to public sector pay raises.
MSM / ABC Flash Point News 2023.