Another union announces rail strikes as travel chaos looms

Another rail union has announced that its members will strike next month in response to the ongoing dispute over pay, job security and conditions.

Thousands of staff at seven rail operators – spanning those in operational, maintenance, supervisory and management roles – will walk out on 18 and 20 August, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said on Monday.

It is the first rail-industry wide industrial action taken by TSSA in more than a generation, demonstrating the strength of feeling over pay and job security as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, the union said.

Cautioning that the warnings of a “summer of discontent” across the country’s rail network were now “an ever-closer reality”, the union’s general secretary, Manuel Cortes, urged transport secretary Grant Shapps to “either personally come to the table or empower train operators to reach a deal”.

The fresh strikes will fall on the same days as the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is striking against Network Rail and 14 other train operators.

The TSSA has served notice for action to Avanti West Coast, c2c, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER, and Southeastern, while action short of strike will be taken against West Midlands Trains, Northern, Greater Anglia, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, it said.

TSSA has held off on serving notice for industrial action in Network Rail in order to hold eleventh-hour talks over pay, job security and conditions – but there is still time to serve notice for action on 18 and 20 August if these talks are unsuccessful.

“This is a momentous day for our members,” Mr Cortes said. “The Tories’ cost-of-living crisis is the worst in living memory. Essential items like food, energy and clothing costs are going through the roof yet the government has chosen to pick a political fight with rail workers.

“Most of our members are going into a third or fourth year of pay freezes, seeing their real take-home pay decrease. For many rail workers in our union this is the first time they have been directly involved in an industrial dispute.

“We do not take strike action lightly, but enough is enough. The Conservative government is the clear block to a deal for rail workers. Grant Shapps must either personally come to the table or empower train operators to reach a deal on pay, job security and conditions.

“Instead of wanting to resolve this dispute, we now see proposals for hundreds of ticket office closures and widespread job cuts across our railways. We’ve been warning of a summer of discontent across our railways for months, and sadly it is an ever-closer reality.”