Former RMT boss says rail strikes won’t stop Xmas travel
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More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union plan to walk out for eight days in December and January, bringing disruption to Britons over the festive period. The latest rail strikes will be part of the longest and most damaging industrial action since the 1980s and over 80 percent of Express.co.uk readers think they should be banned, a new poll has found.
Rail services are expected to be delayed for the best part of a month with strike action scheduled to take place on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 as well as on January 3, 4, 6 and 7. The RMT has also imposed an overtime from December 18 to January 2
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, said: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people. We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of government is presiding over these talks.”
Strike action planned for the start of November was suspended in favour of a fortnight of “intensive negotiations”, but the RMT union said that Network Rail failed to make an improved offer.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, said: “For the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal. Further strikes, especially in the run-up to Christmas, will disrupt the first normal festive season our passengers have been able to look forward to since the Covid pandemic, taking even more money out of the pockets of railway staff, and will cause huge damage to the hospitality and retail sectors dependent on this time of the year for their businesses. We owe it to them to stay round the table.
“Industrial action has already cost the industry millions in lost revenue, is stalling its post-pandemic recovery, and threatening its long-term sustainability.”
In response to the latest planned action, Express.co.uk ran a poll from midday on Wednesday, November 23, to 5pm on Monday, November 28, asking readers: “Should rail strikes be banned as unions plot to take action in run-up to Christmas?”
In total, 1,832 people cast their vote with the vast majority, 83 percent (1,520 people) answering “yes”, rails trikes should be banned.
Whereas 17 percent (302 people) said “no” they should not, and a further 10 people said they did not know either way.
In the comments below the accompanying article, hundreds of readers shared their thoughts on the upcoming rail strikes and role of unions.
Many readers commented in support of strike action being banned, with username pope writing: “Unions should respect others and not deny the public the right to work.”
Username bmcgifford said: “All jobs that are vital to the running of the country should have a no-strike agreement, the Government should also agree to treat those jobs favourably when it comes to working and payment conditions.”
Another, username johnmac, said: “Ban strikes altogether, if they don’t like the job they can go and find another one.”
While username liamswatchereyes added: “Yes, of course. Do what they have done in the States decades ago, make strikes illegal when they impact public convenience.”
However, other readers argued that the right to strike was key a key right in a democratic society, with username Beanyboy2802 commentign: “Banned? No. The right to strike should be protected. There should be minimum service levels though – and those service levels should take into account seasonal changes in service requirements.”
Username Klingon warrior said: “We are still a democracy and a free society; withdrawing ones labour as the last resort in a dispute with one’s employer is a fundamental right for every worker.”
Similarly, username TopsyTurvy said: “All workers have a right to withdraw their labour when in dispute with their employer. This is one of very few workers’ rights left from the days of Maggie Thatcher.”
And username Love the band The Beaches. said: “Workers wouldn’t have to strike if they were treated properly. Power to the workers.”
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A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Strike action risks putting the very future of the entire industry in jeopardy. The rail industry is facing serious financial challenges and is in desperate need of vital reforms to address them.
“We once again urge union leaders to work with employers and come to an agreement which is fair for passengers, taxpayers and workers alike.”
The planned action is the latest in a long-running row over pay and working practices, with Union heads arguing pay offers should account for soaring inflation and cost of living.
This year the RMT has called 11 days of national strike action and drivers working for a dozen rail companies have staged five days of industrial action causing widespread disruption.
Previous strike days have seen train services reduced to main train lines with 20 percent of scheduled services running between 7am and 7pm with disruption continuing to the following morning.
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