December prepare strikes: Extra walkouts deliberate over Christmas

Passengers At King'S Cross Station In LondonEPA

Extra rail strikes have been scheduled over the Christmas interval, the RMT union says.

Staff at Network Rail – about half the employees concerned in a pay dispute – are anticipated to stroll out from 6pm on Christmas Eve till 27 December.

A brand new supply was made by the corporate on Sunday however the union is urging members to reject it.

Network Rail accused the RMT of utilizing passengers and employees as “pawns in a fight with the government”.

“They are playing fast and loose with people’s Christmas plans and the new strike dates announced deliberately target vital engineering work designed to improve the railway,” Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator stated.

Planned strike motion – because of begin subsequent week and proceed into January – may even go forward, the union added.

It is a part of a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and circumstances as the price of living soars.

As properly because the strikes on 24 – 27 December, industrial motion at 14 prepare corporations throughout 4 48-hour durations happen on:

  • 13-14 December
  • 16-17 December
  • 3-4 January
  • 6-7 January

Passengers had already been warned to plan their travel properly in advance over Christmas, with some 5% of the rail community shut for engineering works – though many trains don’t run over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The RMT union is placing a brand new supply from Network Rail to its members in an digital referendum, which is able to shut in every week’s time. But they’re being urged to reject the supply, which its common secretary Mick Lynch stated was “not acceptable”.

The union’s executives had met on Monday to debate the Network Rail supply. They stated they’d be accessible for additional talks.

Network Rail had stated the newest supply was its “best and final”. It features a 5% pay rise this yr and 4% subsequent yr, and no obligatory redundancies for employees in its common grades and controllers till 31 January 2025.

Nigel Goddard

Nigel Goddard

Nigel Goddard in Croydon says the commercial motion signifies that his household’s Christmas has been “ruined”.

He will be unable to see his son in Newcastle this December, and can miss visiting his six-month previous granddaughter over the vacations.

“We have three possible days that we can meet up for Christmas lunch but there are strikes on all three of the days,” he advised the BBC.

The final time Nigel noticed his son was September 2021. He stated he may even miss out on his workers Christmas celebration.

“Mick Lynch needs to get into the real world and realise he is crippling the railways,” he added.

The RMT additionally rejected one other supply from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents prepare operators.

Its talks are separate to negotiations with Network Rail, which maintains the railways all through Britain and employs signallers and upkeep employees – about half of the employees within the dispute.

The group had proposed numerous modifications to working practices which it stated would assist to fund a pay rise for workers of 4% this yr, backdated to the start of the monetary yr, adopted by one other 4% subsequent yr.

These embody repurposing or closing ticket places of work, with workers having new “multi-skilled” roles and Sunday working the place it isn’t in place already. Other proposals by the RDG to “secure the future of the industry” included drivers working the prepare doorways in additional areas, though it insists guards would nonetheless be on board.

There would even be a assure of no obligatory redundancies till April 2024.

‘Compelled to take motion’

Mick Lynch, RMT union common secretary, stated that they had not obtained an improved supply from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) nonetheless.

He stated it was “unfortunate that the union had been compelled to take this action” and described it as “poor” on pay specifically.

“We remain available for talks in order to resolve these issues but we will not bow to pressure from the employers and the government to the detriment of our members,” he added.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper stated the newest developments have been “incredibly disappointing”.

“The RMT has failed to play its part and our rail network now faces more harmful disruption rather than helpful discussion,” he steered, pointing in the direction of the truth that a smaller union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), is placing a proposal to its members from Network Rail.

The TSSA had been because of strike on 17 December, however that has been referred to as off.

The RMT, together with different rail unions who’ve additionally been hanging, is searching for pay rises that sustain with the surging price of living in addition to enhancements to working circumstances.

But pubs, eating places and cafes have stated they’re anxious that if the rail strikes go forward within the upcoming weeks they are going to be severely affected, as Christmas is normally their busiest time of the yr.

About 40,000 rail employees are anticipated to stroll out and there’s prone to be disruption within the days across the strikes because of trains not being in the correct locations.

The rail trade is underneath strain to economize after the pandemic left a gap in its funds, and executives say reforms are wanted to modernise the railway and make pay rises inexpensive.