Tens of thousands of railway workers in the UK have walked off their jobs over pay, working conditions and job security.
Tens of thousands of railway workers in Britain have quit their jobs, bringing the train network to a halt in the country’s biggest transit workers’ strike in more than 30 years.
Some 40,000 cleaners, communication workers, maintenance workers and station staff held a 24-hour strike, with two more planned for Thursday and Saturday. Adding to passengers’ pain, there were also strikes on the London Underground on Tuesday.
The dispute is over wages, working conditions and job security as Britain’s railways struggle to recover from the pandemic coronavirus.
As of March, almost 1 billion train journeys had been made in the UK. But this is well below pre-CoVID-19 levels and rail companies, which have been kept afloat for the past two years thanks to government support, are looking to cut costs and staff.
On Tuesday morning, major stations were largely deserted, with only about 20 per cent of passenger trains scheduled to run.
Last-minute negotiations on Monday did not lead to a breakthrough. The railway, maritime and transport union says it will not accept the railway companies’ proposal for a 3 per cent increase, well below the inflation rate, which is currently 9 per cent.
The union accuses the Conservative government of refusing to give railway companies enough flexibility to offer substantial wage increases.
The government says it is not involved in the negotiations, but has warned that large increases will cause wages and prices to spiral, leading to even higher inflation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused the unions of “hurting the very people they are supposedly helping” and called for a “sensible compromise for the benefit of the British people and railway workers”.
Britain’s biggest rail strike in decades took place on Tuesday after last-minute talks between the union and railway companies failed to bring about a settlement