Railway workers threaten to strike over CHRISTMAS

Railway workers threaten to strike over CHRISTMAS: Millions of passengers could be stranded as militant union bosses pledge to ‘get creative’ with more walkouts over the festive period

  • The RMT has threatened to strike over Christmas if the dispute is not resolved 
  • Assistant secretary Eddie Dempsey vowed ‘to get creative’ in coming months
  • It could leave millions stranded as they try to see family during the festive period

Millions of travellers could be left stranded over Christmas as militant union bosses pledge to ‘get creative’ with more walkouts over the festive period.

Unions have threatened to cause travel woe at one of the busiest times of the year if its long-running dispute with train operators, Network Rail and the Government drags into December.

People looking to get the train to see relatives at Christmas and New Year could face even more disruption after months of debilitating strikes.

 Eddie Dempsey, assistant secretary at the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, and his boss, general secretary Mick Lynch, have both said they will urge members to strike over Christmas if no settlement is reached.

The Mirror quotes Mr Dempsey as saying: ‘We’re in it until we win it. It’ll affect Christmas.

‘The way things are, we’re going to have to get creative.

‘I won’t let the cat out of the bag, but we will alter our industrial position if we don’t see some movement in the next short period.’

The publication adds that Mr Lynch said: ‘Strikes will go on until we get a settlement.

‘We don’t want to continue strikes through Christmas, but if there is no settlement they will continue.’

MailOnline has contacted the RMT for comment. 

People sit while waiting at London Euston train station in December last year. People hoping to travel over Christmas could see their plans hit by rail strikes this year

Mick Lynch (centre), general secretary of the RMT, has said if the long-running dispute between the union and rail operators is not resolved, they will strike over Christmas

It could leave millions of passengers stranded as they try to see friends and family over the festive period

The ominous warning comes a day after 54,000 workers from four unions walked out of their jobs in the row over pay, conditions, pensions and job security, bringing entire network to a halt.

In a sight that has become all too familiar to those wishing to travel by rail in recent months, stations were closed and hundreds of miles of track left empty as only 11 per cent of services ran.

And there will be further strikes in the coming weeks, with members of the ASLEF and TSSA unions walking out on Wednesday, October 5, followed by the RMT on Saturday, October 8.

While yesterday’s strike officially lasted 24 hours, its impacts were also felt today by people trying to get into the capital for the London Marathon, as trains started later than normal.

Trains run by many operators and travelling any reasonable distance into central London did not arrive before 9am, while the mass start to the Marathon began at 9.40am in Greenwich Park.  

It comes after rail unions vowed they would not back down as they grind Britain’s railways to a halt with the biggest strikes in decades.

The impact of yesterday’s strike action will also be felt today. Pictured: Runners in Blackheath before the start of the today’s marathon

Southeastern trains says it has started services early to help those who have been able to get into London get to the starting zone in good time Pictured: Runners outside Blackheath train station this morning

May national rail operators have started services late after yesterday’s strike, meaning people travelling from a reasonable distance won’t make it into London long before 9am. Pictured: Runners rest in Blackheath before the start of the marathon today

Those wanting to take part in the race have to make it to Greenwich Park, and after they start, they will run 26.2 miles through London to the finish on the Mall near Buckingham Palace

The strikes will cause chaos for rail passengers as services get back up and running after yesterday’s walkout

The move left travellers frustrated, with some blasting the unions for penalising the ‘kindest folk, charities and the people they are helping’. 

Others branded them ‘vile selfish bullies’ for striking on the eve of one of the biggest events in the capital’s calendar. 

@mar45 wrote: ‘What sort of person goes on strike and makes it impossible for many hundreds of people to get to and from London for the Marathon which provides so many thousands for various charities? They must be really vile selfish bullies imo.’

@Neil Cammies added: ‘Picking the weekend of the London Marathon for a train strike penalises the kindest folk, charities and the people they are helping. Unions if you want to lose public sympathy that’s the way to do it. Truly awful timing and dreadful decision making.’

@ClarieNaylor78 wrote: ‘We are all struggling financially due to price hikes and cost of living and whether you’re for or against strikes (I def have my views but that’s irrelevant right now), to strike the weekend of the London Marathon… nah… I absolutely don’t agree with that.’

@TelBabe said: ‘So, a massive train strike on the day thousands of people all over the UK have trained hard all year for – The London Marathon. But the union says: ‘We don’t want to hurt the public!’ Why do it then? Welcome back to the 70s.’

@jaxweeks1974 added: ‘What a liar to claim the strike the day before the marathon was a ‘coincidence’. They planned it to cause mass disruption and the ones that will suffer will be charities, many of which rely on the funding they get from the marathon runners.’

People on social media have hit out at the unions for their ‘selfish’ decision to go on strike the day before the London Marathon, a move that impacts those travelling into the capital on the morning of the race

While many national operators started their services later than normal today as a result of the strike, Southeastern says it put on early trains to help get people to the start areas. 

Services from London terminals towards Blackheath, Greenwich and Maze hill started at around 7am this morning, with many runners taking full advantage to try and get there with plenty of time to spare.

Members of four trade unions went on strike for 24 hours on Saturday, causing the worst rail disruption of the year so far, with parts of the country having no services all day. 

Rail passengers were advised only to travel if necessary on Saturday because of the strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Aslef, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA). 

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said his members are angry at the lack of progress in the dispute. 

He said: ‘We don’t want to be on strike but this dispute will continue until the Government lifts the shackles from the train companies. 

‘The message I am receiving from my members is that they want more industrial action, so I think more strikes are inevitable.’ 

Mr Whelan will tell a rally in Birmingham, organised by the campaign group Enough Is Enough: ‘We would much rather not be in this position. 

‘Withdrawing your labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort, but the companies, with the unseen hand of the Government right behind them, seem determined to force our hand. 

Aslef general secretary Mike Whelan said: ‘This dispute will continue until the Government lifts the shackles from the train companies’

People planning to take part in the London Marathon (pictured) on Sunday, October 2, may struggle to travel down or have to change their plans to arrive the day before

Mick Lynch’s RMT and two other unions are also joining the mass rail strike today  

Which rail operators will be affected by the strikes and when?

October 1 

Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways,  CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER,  London Overground, Northern Trains,  Southeastern,  TransPennine Express,  and West Midlands Trains 

October 5

Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains 

‘They are telling train drivers to take a real-terms pay cut. With inflation now running at 12.3%, they are saying that drivers who have not had an increase for three years should be prepared to work just as hard, for just as long, for considerably less. 

‘The companies with whom we are in dispute have not offered us a penny, and we think it is outrageous that they expect us to put up with a real-terms pay cut for a third year in a row.’ 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has written to Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, urging her to take ‘urgent steps to allow a negotiated settlement’ after the union said latest figures showed railway bosses benefiting from government tax cuts. 

Railway industry bosses stand to gain up to £61,000 a year from the Chancellor’s tax cuts, more than most RMT members will earn in a year and in many cases twice as much, the union said. 

Mr Lynch, who met Ms Trevelyan last month, wrote: ‘As you know, when we met, I described the meeting as ‘positive’ but the only public statement since then has been from the Chancellor during his fiscal event stating he will be bringing forward legislation to remove rail workers’ right to strike. 

‘Despite our positive discussion, the Chancellor’s intervention has made an already difficult dispute harder to resolve. 

‘I am also concerned the Government has recently been taking action that is lining the pockets of the ‘railway rich’ whilst rail workers continue to endure pay freezes and real-terms pay cuts. 

‘The privatised rail industry is largely dependent on tax-payer subsidy and the Government is using this to support the railway rich in a number of ways, including: ‘The highest paid directors of a number of rail companies receiving annual increases in remuneration between 15 – 273%, much of this on the basis of financial results that have been funded by the Government. 

‘Railway bosses stand to gain up to £61,000 per annum from the Chancellor’s tax giveaway for the better off. These people stand to get more from your Government’s tax cut than most of my members will earn in a year and in many cases twice as much.’ 

Another strike by Aslef will be held on Wednesday, while RMT members will walk out again on October 8, and again on October 10 in Scotland. 

A reduced timetable was published, showing that just 11% of rail services will run on Saturday, with some areas having no trains. 

Trains started later in the morning and finished earlier in the evening and there were no trains at all across large parts of the network. 

An Aslef union member taking part in industrial action at a picket line in London on August 13

Stock image of a East Midlands Railway (EMR) train. EMR drivers voted earlier this week to take part in industrial action on October 5

Delegates travelling to the Conservative Party conference this weekend were among those affected. 

Those who must travel – including those looking to participate in or watch the London Marathon – were advised to plan ahead and check when their last train will leave. 

Passengers were also warned there would likely to be some disruption in the early morning of Sunday October 2 as workers return. 

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: ‘Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and co-ordinating their strike action. 

‘This serves only to ensure our staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, as well as causing even more disruption for our passengers and further damaging the railway’s recovery from the pandemic. 

‘Passengers who want to travel this Saturday, and indeed next Wednesday and next Saturday, are asked only to do so if absolutely necessary. Those who must travel should expect disruption and make sure they check when their last train will depart.’ 

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘These strikes are unnecessary and damaging. 

‘They disrupt passengers’ plans, undermine struggling businesses, hit major events and harm the industry’s recovery. 

‘It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon. 

‘That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community. 

‘While we have done all we can to keep some services running, passengers should only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.’ 

Transport for London said its services would also affected by the strikes, with no service expected on London Overground on Saturday and next Wednesday. 

Source: Read Full Article