Rail attacks: Anger at UK government’s refusal to engage in last-ditch talks

The government is facing mounting anger over its refusal to engage in last-ditch talks to avert the biggest rail strike in three decades, millions facing a week of canceled trains and unions CPI leaders say industrial action could spread.

With 40,000 rail workers due to attend a three-day walkout this week, Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, insisted that this is not the job of the government To negotiate with unions on pay, terms, job cuts and security.

But Jake Berry, a Conservative MP and former rail minister, was among those who said ministers should negotiate with Network Rail – which is government-owned – train operators and unions.

Labor called on ministers to call off a boycott of the talks, which continued on Sunday to prevent the threatening action.

The strike is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, followed by more strike days on Thursday and Saturday, in which RMT union members will step out. Due to knock-on interference, a Special timetable will apply From Monday until Sunday, with some evening services. About 20% of the trains will run on mainline and urban areas.

RMT and Unite are also holding a separate 24-hour walkout for London Underground workers on Tuesday, which will cause severe disruption to the Tube.

There have been several warnings from union leaders in recent weeks about the prospect of further industrial action this year as wage deals are shrinking at more than 10% inflation. Care workers, civil servants, teachers and garbage collectors are among those who may vote to strike in the coming months.

RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch also raised the possibility of a rolling program of train strikes if there is no resolution to the dispute. He told Sky News: “If there is no agreement, we will continue our campaign.”

He said: “I think there will be many unions that are voting across the country because people can’t take it anymore. We have people who are working full-time jobs who have to take advantage of the state and use food banks. Have to do it. It’s a national disgrace.”

On Sunday night, a rail industry source said there was a “ray of hope” of a proposal, with talks between the rail industry and unions continuing till evening after it began at 2 pm. Nevertheless, the two sides still appeared distant on several key issues.

The strikes also include rail sweepers, customer service assistants and ticket office workers, all of whom earn much less than the average rail worker salary and lose the largest chunk of their income in actual pay cuts.

Shadow Transport Secretary Lewis High wrote to Shapps on Sunday night to say: “The only way to solve this is for your government to stop boycotting the talks and sit down at the table.

“Patients, school children, low-wage workers and commuters need a resolution – and they won’t forgive the government if they don’t point a finger at solving it.”

Keir Starmer accused Shapps of going ahead with the strike to sow the division – an allegation the Transport Secretary dismissed as “insane”.

Speaking at a local government conference on Sunday, the labor leader said: “They want the country to stop moving so that they can feed division. Instead of spending their time at the negotiating table this week, they’re preparing attack ads.

“Instead of talking adults to take the heat out of the situation, they are pouring petrol on the fire. Instead of bringing people together in the interest of the nation, they are promoting division in their political interest.”

But Shapps insisted that the RMT union’s request for a meeting was a “stunt” and that the union was “determined to go on strike”.

“In what kind of crazy world would anyone want to see our transportation sector come to a standstill?” He said, exposing students unable to appear for exams and people who miss hospital appointments and struggle to go to work.

He told the BBC that the RMT was “nostalgic for the power of unions in the 1970s, when they went number 10 and ate sandwiches – we’re not going back to those days”.

traditionalists There have been frequent attempts to link the union-backed Labor Party with the strikes, although Starmer has repeatedly insisted that he thinks there should be no walkouts.

Sign up for the first edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday at 7 a.m. BST

The planned strike would mean a disruption of six days, with trains on major intercity and urban routes restricted to an hour between 7.30 am and 6.30 pm. Services will start later and will be reduced in subsequent days.

The action is being taken by Network Rail employees and onboard and station staff working for 13 train operators in England.

RMT has said thousands of jobs in maintenance roles are at risk and plans to close ticket offices on top of a pay freeze in times of high inflation.

The Sunday Times reported this weekend that there are plans to close all ticket offices by September to save £500m.

Walkouts by signallers would be most impacted, especially in more rural areas – leading to line closures in places including Wales where there is no direct dispute with the train operator. Most operators have asked passengers to travel only on strike days if necessary. Northern Rail has advised passengers to try not to travel throughout the week.