Train companies and the government argue they need to change the way the rail network operates to control costs after the coronavirus pandemic reduced passenger traffic and changed commuting patterns…reports Asian Lite News
Commuters returning to work on Tuesday after the Christmas break were advised not to travel as tens of thousands of British rail workers stage a fresh round of strikes that will disrupt services all week.
Around half of the UK’s railway lines are closed, and only one-fifth of services are running amid a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union were striking Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, while drivers in the Aslef union will strike Thursday. Many places, including most of Scotland and Wales, have no train services.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper urged union leaders to come to the negotiating table and said the government has offered a “very fair pay offer”. But union boss Mick Lynch said officials have not put forward any fresh proposals and suggested the government was blocking an agreement.
“What we keep hearing is the same stuff from the government across the sectors that they want to facilitate an agreement, but they don’t actually do anything,” Lynch told Sky News from a picket line at London’s Euston train station.
Train companies and the government argue they need to change the way the rail network operates to control costs after the coronavirus pandemic reduced passenger traffic and changed commuting patterns.
But rail workers, like others who work in the public sector, say wages have failed to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of living. Inflation in the UK has soared to a 41-year high of 11.1%, driven by sharply rising energy and food costs.
Nurses, airport baggage handlers, ambulance and bus drivers and postal workers were among those who walked off their jobs in December to demand higher pay.
Meanwhile, rail passengers in Scotland are facing more disruption this week as Network Rail workers strike.
The UK-wide industrial action by members of the RMT union took place on Tuesday and continues on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
ScotRail said the strikes meant it would also be unable to provide a full service on Thursday.
Meanwhile, flood damage has closed the main rail line between Glasgow and Carlisle until Friday.
In the meantime Avanti West Coast has advised people not to travel to and from Scotland on the west coast main line.
About 40,000 Network Rail workers are expected to take part in the nationwide strikes over a pay dispute.
Network Rail owns, repairs and develops the railway infrastructure – tracks, bridges, tunnels and signals – and its staff have essential safety roles.
ScotRail said the action meant it would not be able to run the vast majority of its services.
On strike days the train operator will run services on 12 routes across the central belt, Fife and the Borders between 07:30 and 18:30.