UK rail strike locks up commuters, turns workers against government

UK rail strike locks up commuters, turns workers against government

UK rail strike locks up commuters, turns workers against government

LONDON (AP) – Tens of thousands of railway workers laid down their jobs in Britain on Tuesday, putting the train network on the run in the country’s largest transit strike in three decades.

About 40,000 cleaners, signalmen, maintenance personnel and station workers held a 24-hour strike, with two more scheduled for Thursday and Saturday. Adding to the pain for commuters, London Underground services were also hit by a strike on Tuesday.

The dispute revolves around pay, working conditions and job security as Britain’s railways struggle to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Major stations were largely deserted by Tuesday morning, with only about 20% of passenger trains expected to run.

Nurse Priya Govender was at London Bridge station, struggling to get back to her home south of the city.

“I certainly won’t be able to get a bus because they are full. I’ll have to take an Uber,” she said. “My day was terrible. It’s going to be a long day and I still have a whole day to do.”

The strike shook up the plans of workers trying to get to work, students during exam season and music lovers heading to the Glastonbury Festival, which kicks off Wednesday in the south west of England.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry association UKHospitality, said the strike would cost restaurants, cafes and bars much-needed business.

Fragile consumer confidence will take a further blow, thousands of people who are able and willing to spend in hospitality establishments across the country will be prevented from doing so, while staff will undoubtedly struggle to even get to work. go,” she said.

In the year to March, there were nearly 1 billion train journeys in the UK. But that’s well below pre-COVID-19 levels, and train companies, which have been propped up with government support for the past two years, are trying to cut costs and staff.

Last minute calls on Monday did not lead to a breakthrough. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union says it will not accept the offer of railway companies to increase 3%, which is far below the inflation rate, which is currently 9%.

The union accuses the Conservative government of not giving railway companies enough flexibility to offer a substantial wage increase.

The government says it is not involved in the talks, but has warned that large hikes will spark a wage-price spiral that will push inflation even further.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused unions of “harming the people they claim to help” and called for “a sensible compromise for the good of the British people and railway workers”.