Now strikers want to ruin SCHOOL HOLIDAYS! Union unveils new plot to cripple nation’s railways on first week of summer break by asking staff at NINE operators to vote on walkouts… after plan to bring UK to its knees next week
- The TSSA will ask its members from nine rail operators to vote on whether to walkout over pay and conditions
- New ballots announced today of Southeastern and Great Western Railway staff with possible strike in late July
- LNER, Northern, c2c, CrossCounty, East Midlands, West Midlands and Avanti West Coast staff are also voting
- Industrial action could take place in first week of school summer holidays if approved and cause travel chaos
- RMT will hold strikes on Network Rail and 13 operators on June 21, 23 and 25; as well as Tube strike on June 21
Thousands of railway workers will be balloted for strikes in escalating disputes over pay and jobs – increasing the threat of summer travel chaos, with possible action now scheduled for the first week of the school holidays.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) today served notice to ballot 350 workers at Southeastern and 500 more at Great Western Railway – on top of other current ballots of hundreds of other members at Network Rail, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, Northern, LNER and c2c.
The Southeastern ballot opens on June 23 before closing on July 11 with the earliest possible action on July 25; while the Great Western Railway begins on June 24 and ends on July 12 before any action takes place from July 26.
Some 570 TSSA members across CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and West Midlands Trains will be balloted for action from yesterday until July 7, but no potential date for strike action has been announced by the union.
More than 700 workers at c2c, LNER and Northern will be balloted from June 22 to July 6, with the earliest date for strike action being July 20. The Avanti West Coast ballot began on Wednesday but no end date has been released.
The TSSA is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies at Southeastern and Great Western Railway, as well as no ‘unagreed changes to terms and conditions’ and a pay rise which ‘reflects the rising cost of living’.
It comes ahead of strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Network Rail and 13 train operators next week on June 21, 23 and 25, and another walkout by the RMT and Unite on London Underground on June 21.
Services will be crippled across Britain next week, with little or no sign of a last minute breakthrough to the bitter disputes which are expected to affect trains over a seven-day period from next Monday evening until Sunday.
LONDON — This Transport for London map shows greyed-out lines for those that will be affected by disruption next Tuesday all day, and Wednesday morning. ‘Severe disruption or no service’ is expected on all Tube lines from the start of next Tuesday until at least 8am on Wednesday. Only the Croydon Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway are shown as running normally
GREAT NORTHERN, GATWICK EXPRESS, SOUTHERN AND THAMESLINK: This map from Govia Thameslink Railway shows the trains expected to operate on its network during strike action next week on June 21, 23 and 25 – a fraction of normal services
SOUTHEASTERN – Limited services set to run between London, Kent and East Sussex next week on June 21, 23 and 25
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY: There will be no trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY — A very limited services will run Cardiff or Plymouth to London via Bristol, Swindon and Reading
LNER: The operator says it will be running only 38 per cent of its usual trains, with the last from London to Edinburgh at 2pm
CROSSCOUNTRY: Rail network will be running a ‘significantly reduced service’ on the strike days next week as shown above
Southeastern serves 640,000 commuters each day with services between London, Kent and parts of East Sussex; while Great Western Railway operates out from London Paddington to South West England and South Wales.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said today that the union’s members at both Great Western Railway and Southeastern are seeking ‘basic fair treatment in the teeth of a crippling cost of living crisis’.
How Britain’s rail network will grind to a halt due to multiple strikes amid ‘summer of discontent’
- June 21: RMT and Unite strike on London Underground
- June 21, 23 and 25: RMT strike on Network Rail and 13 train operators, also affecting services on June 22, 24 and 26
- June 26: Separate Aslef strike on Hull trains
- June 28-29 and July 13-14: Aslef strike on Croydon Tramlink
- July 20: When c2c, LNER and Northern workers could go on strike if TSSA members vote for action
- From July 25: When Network Rail strike action could take place if TSSA members vote for it in ballot
He continued: ‘Rail workers were hailed as heroes in the pandemic and now they deserve a real terms pay rise which keeps pace with inflation, rather than shouldering the burden of the Tories’ economic meltdown.
‘Our demands are simple – pay which reflects the times we live in, a deal which delivers job security, and no race to the bottom on terms and conditions.
‘It’s time the Government changed course. Instead of making cuts across our railway the DfT should either give GWR and other companies the signal to make us a reasonable offer, or Ministers should come to the negotiating table and speak to us directly.
‘The alternative is a fast-approaching summer of discontent across our rail network. Make no mistake, we are preparing for all options, including coordinated strike action which would bring trains to a halt.’
But a Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The facts are clear: The median pay of rail workers in is £44,000, which is around 70 per cent above the national average.
‘Railway workers have seen above average salary increases over the last decade. The industry is offering daily talks to resolve the strikes. We continue to encourage the unions to take them up on that offer and negotiate a fair deal for workers.’
And a No 10 spokesman said: ‘It is in the hands of the unions to call off strikes next week. We continue to call on the unions to call them off. Obviously ministers remain close to the ongoing situation with regard to what are live discussions.
‘But as we have made clear, we are not the employers in this case and we can’t intervene in the negotiations between rail companies and the unions. But what we want to see is unions get back round the table with their employer and call off the strikes next week.’
This map released today shows the planned rail services on June 21, June 23 and June 25 as the RMT strike is set to cause chaos across Britain. Network Rail has said that no passenger services will serve locations such as Penzance in Cornwall, Bournemouth in Dorset, Swansea in South Wales, Holyhead in North Wales, Chester in Cheshire and Blackpool in Lancashire
LONDON — This close-up map of London shows the lines which are expected to operate in and out of the capital on June 21, 23 and 25. Transport for London has not yet released full service details for next week, but major disruption expected throughout next week especially next Tuesday, when the Aslef union is also holding a separate strike to the main RMT industrial action
WEST MIDLANDS — Many of the lines running in and out of Birmingham will be hit on June 21, 23 and 25. West Midlands Railway said there will be no services on many routes, but a limited service from Lichfield Trent Valley to Redditch / Bromsgrove; Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton; and Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND — Few rail lines will be open in Kent and East Sussex when the strikes take place on June 21, 23 and 25. Local operator Southeastern said most lines will have no service, and a limited service will only run on the Dartford and Orpington lines into London Bridge, and the High Speed line to London St Pancras from Ashford only
SOUTH WEST ENGLAND — No trains will run west of Plymouth on June 21, 23 and 25. GWR said there will be very limited services from 7.30am to 6.30pm between Cardiff or Plymouth to London Paddington via Bristol, Swindon and Reading. There will be no services from Bristol, Oxford or Swindon to Hereford or Worcester; and none between Westbury and Weymouth
NORTH OF ENGLAND — Few rail lines will be running across the North of England on the strike days of June 21, 23 and 25. Northern Rail said there will be a limited service only running between Darlington and Saltburn; Liverpool Lime Street and Alderley Edge; York and Leeds; Ilkley and Leeds; Skipton and Leeds; Leeds and Sheffield; and Leeds and Bradford
EAST ANGLIA: Services in the Greater Anglia region will be severely affected on June 21, 23 and 25 by the industrial action. There will be a limited service on some routes such as Norwich, Colchester, Southend and Stansted to London Liverpool Street, but none between Norwich and Cambridge/Stansted Airport, Sheringham, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth
WALES — Almost all of Wales will be cut off from the UK rail network on the days of action of June 21, 23 and 25 – except for Cardiff to London Paddington via Newport. Transport for Wales also said there would be a service from Radyr to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil – reduced to an hourly service in each direction, with a bus connection to Cardiff Central
SCOTLAND — All of Scotland north of Falkirk will be cut off from the rail network during the strike days of June 21, 23 and 25. There will be a limited service between 7.30am and 6.30pm with two trains per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk High: Edinburgh and Bathgate; Glasgow and Hamilton/Larkhall; and Glasgow and Lanark
The TSSA said its workers were ‘seeking basic fair treatment in the teeth of a crippling cost of living crisis’, but rail operators want unions to ‘talk, not walk’ as the dispute which is set to cause chaos this summer rumbles on.
How London will be hit by next week’s rail strikes affecting Underground, Overground and Elizabeth line services
Tuesday: ‘Severe disruption or no service’ is expected on all London Underground lines for the whole day
Wednesday: No service expected until at least 8am
Thursday and Saturday: Most services operating, but disruption from Queen’s Park to Harrow and Wealdstone on Bakerloo line; on Richmond and Wimbledon branches of the District line; and on the Waterloo and City line
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday: Tube customers using sections of lines affected by national rail action (listed above) should avoid making journeys until mid-morning.
Saturday and Sunday: No Waterloo & City line
Sunday: No District line between Turnham Green and Richmond.
Friday and Saturday night: Continued strike action means three trains per hour on the Victoria line and Jubilee lines, and two per hour on the Central line
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: Limited service between 7.30am and 6.30pm due to national strike
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday: Possible disruption
Monday to Thursday: No service between Romford and Upminster
Monday to Friday: Changes to early and late trains on the Richmond / Clapham Junction to Stratford line; and the Gospel Oak to Barking line
Saturday and Sunday: No service between Sydenham and West Croydon; or Gospel Oak and Barking
Sunday: No service between Willesden Junction and Richmond; or Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: Reduced service
Wednesday and Friday: Possible disruption
Sunday: No service between Paddington and Abbey Wood
DOCKLANDS LIGHT RAILWAY
Tuesday: Services running but are ‘likely to be extremely busy with queues to board’. Possible closures for safety reasons at stations also served by Underground
Wednesday to Friday: Normal service expected
Saturday and Sunday: No service between Bank / Tower Gateway and Poplar / West India Quay
Tuesday to Sunday: Normal service planned, but could be ‘extremely busy’ when strikes affect other services
Tuesday to Sunday: Normal service planned, but higher demand likely due to strike on rail services
EMIRATES AIR LINE
Tuesday to Sunday: Normal cable car service planned
Tuesday to Sunday: Higher demand likely as people cycle instead, with teams ensuring bicycles for hire are ‘distributed at key locations according to demand’
Meanwhile Sadiq Khan has accused the Government of ‘inciting’ next week’s Tube strike. The London Mayor claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps were ‘whipping up’ division with the Transport for London (TfL) funding deal.
He added: ‘At the core of this is the Government… orchestrating and engineering and inciting a strike in London by attaching these conditions to the funding deal, which has got the trade unions really concerned.
‘The Tories are in government and this is classic deflecting from Shapps and Johnson who are responsible for this divisive politics, for whipping up them versus us, communities versus workers.
‘And now they’ve got the audacity to blame Her Majesty’s Official Opposition for these strikes when it’s the Government that’s in the cockpit. It’s punishing the wrong people – it’s the Government who are attaching these strings, not Londoners, not our businesses, not our key workers.’
Mr Khan also said he was encouraging the RMT to speak with representatives from TfL so that planned strikes in the capital do not need to go ahead.
He told the BBC’s World At One programme today: ‘I’m encouraging the RMT to meet with TfL before Tuesday to call these strikes off. The strikes next week are going to be so damaging to London’s economy, they are going to be incredibly inconvenient.
‘The concerns the RMT have in relation to London are because of conditions attached by the Government in relation to the funding required because of the pandemic, so they’re pointing their anger at the wrong people. It’s the wrong people suffering.
‘So in relation to the strikes in London, I’d encourage the RMT to meet with TfL.’
In regards to nationwide strikes, Mr Khan added that the Government should resolve unions’ issues ‘amicably’.
It came as union baron Mick Lynch fumed on live TV last night as he admitted that many train drivers striking next week for a 11 per cent pay rise are already earning more than £54,000.
The RMT chief also became agitated when grilled by broadcaster Piers Morgan over his own salary and perks, said to add up to £124,000-a-year. He said: ‘I’m just a working class bloke who is leading a trade union in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.’
Industrial action by 40,000 members of Mr Lynch’s union will bring six days of chaos to Britain’s railways next week, with half the network shut down entirely on strike days on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Thousands of workers from other unions will also walk out cripple the Tube.
The RMT has demanded 11 per cent pay rises for workers and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies in response to a national drive to save more than £2billion across Britain’s railway network.
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, called on unions to come back to the negotiating table.
On Twitter, it said today: ‘To our rail colleagues: To those of you that are striving every day to keep our service going and helping passengers complete their journeys, thank you. We couldn’t do this without you.
‘To those of you out on strike, we know how hard you work. We will do all we can to reach a deal that is fair to both you, our passengers and to taxpayers.
‘To the RMT union: We need to keep talking about how we can create a railway that works for the 21st century. We need to keep talking about how to put the railway back on an even keel and make sure it doesn’t take more than its fair share from taxpayers.
‘We need to keep talking about how we can reach a deal that is fair for everyone. Strikes should be the last resort, not the first. We need you to talk, not walk.’
Mr Lynch has been accused of holding the ‘country to ransom’ over a pay at a time when millions unable to get to work next week are struggling to ends meet due to the worst cost of living crisis since the 1970s.
He hit back by claiming the majority of union members walking out next week earn an average of £31,000-a-year but when Morgan confronted him with that the fact that train drivers striking earn than £54,000-a-year, Mr Lynch admitted: ‘Some probably earn more than that’.
The Talk TV host said: ‘A lot of your workers earn good money. My point is, at a time of economic crisis when people are literally struggling to feed their kids and food bank queues are getting bigger, is this the right time for you to be holding the country to ransom for an 11 percent pay rise?’
Mr Morgan also demanded to know why Mr Lynch earned £124,000-a-year including perks, but he insisted his salary is £84,000 and his higher total package ‘includes National Insurance, tax and pension contributions’. Mr Morgan then snapped back: ‘Everyone’s package includes that, what are you talking about?’
In the tempestuous interview, Mr Lynch then fumed: ‘Well what’s your pay package then? – but Mr Morgan didn’t say, replying: ‘Well, I would hope it is more than yours.’
When Mr Lynch asked: ‘Why don’t you tell everyone what you earn as you are asking me what I earn?’, Mr Morgan said: ‘I’ll tell you why, it’s because I am not leading out my members on a strike which is going to cause huge inconvenience to the British people’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps speaks about the rail strikes at a Siemens train depot in North London yesterday
RMT general secretary Mike Lynch smiles as he arrives at the union’s headquarters in London yesterday afternoon
Sajid Javid said the travel chaos will make it harder for frontline staff, including doctors and nurses, to get to work.
How will your local rail operator be affected by next week’s RMT strikes?
Avanti West Coast: Some services are set to run on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow but with a ‘significantly reduced timetable’. Trains are expected to be ‘very busy, so we strongly advise to only travel by rail if necessary on strike days’. Some stations will have no service.
c2c: Reduced service from 7.30am to 6.30pm, equating to less than a third of normal service levels, and consisting of two trains per hour from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Laindon; and from Fenchurch Street to Pitsea via Rainham. No trains will run via Ockendon or Chafford Hundred.
Caledonian Sleeper: All services cancelled from Monday to Friday next week.
Chiltern Railways: Train services start at 8am and finish before 6pm. Two trains per hour will run to/from London Marylebone – one to Banbury and the other to Aylesbury Vale Parkway via High Wycombe. Last trains from Marylebone will be the 3.10pm Banbury, 4.10pm to Bicester North and 4.45pm to Aylesbury Vale Parkway via High Wycombe
CrossCountry: Running a ‘significantly reduced service’ but is still ‘finalising details of what level of service we will be able to offer over this period’.
East Midlands Railway: One train per hour between Nottingham and London St Pancras; Sheffield and London; and Corby and London. Also one train per hour between Derby and Matlock; Derby and Nottingham; Leicester and Nottingham; and Nottingham and Sheffield
Eurostar: Cancelled up to four services from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord; five from Paris to London; two from London to Brussels Midi; three from Brussels to London, two from London to Amsterdam Centraal and two from Amsterdam to London on all three strike days of next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There will also be one London to Paris and one Paris to London train axed on Wednesday and Friday.
Gatwick Express: There will be no service on strike days. A Sunday service will run on the days after the strikes, with late starts and early finishes.
Grand Central: Running a ‘limited service’, and customers without reservations will not be permitted to board. Only one train on strike days from Sunderland to London King’s Cross, at 8.57am.
Great Northern: Much of the network will be closed on the strike days, with no services east of Ely to King’s Lynn. An amended Sunday service will be in place on the days after strikes.
Great Western Railway: Very limited services from 7.30am to 6.30pm between Cardiff or Plymouth to London Paddington via Bristol, Swindon and Reading. No services from Bristol, Oxford or Swindon to Hereford or Worcester. No services between Westbury and Weymouth, Portsmouth or Southampton; or between Plymouth and Penzance
Greater Anglia: Limited service on some routes such as Norwich, Colchester, Southend and Stansted to London Liverpool Street , but none between Norwich and Cambridge/Stansted Airport, Sheringham, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth; Ipswich and Cambridge, Peterborough, Felixstowe and Lowestoft; Marks Tey and Sudbury; and all other branch lines.
Heathrow Express: Limited services with none before 7.30am or after 6.30pm. Full timetable to follow.
Hull Trains: Trains only between Doncaster and London King’s Cross, on amended timetable. Separate strike by Aslef on Sunday, June 26 means no services at all.
LNER: Running only 38 per cent of its usual trains on a limited timetable, with the last service from London to Edinburgh at 2pm, and from London to Leeds at 3.05pm
London Northwestern Railway: Two trains per hour from London Euston to Northampton. One train per hour between Birmingham and Northampton; and Birmingham and Liverpool. No trains from London to Crewe via Lichfield Trent Valey; Bletchley to Bedford or Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey
Lumo: Plans to ‘operate as many of our services as possible’ and trains will ‘continue to run as normal’, but ‘we anticipate some disruption to our services’
Merseyrail: No trains on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, with no replacement buses. Limited service from 7am on Wednesday and Friday – when buses will run.
Northern : Limited service only between Darlington and Saltburn; Liverpool Lime Street and Alderley Edge; York and Leeds; Ilkley and Leeds; Skipton and Leeds; Leeds and Sheffield; and Leeds and Bradford. No service on other routes.
ScotRail: Limited service between 7.30am and 6.30pm with two trains per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk High: Edinburgh and Bathgate; Glasgow and Hamilton/Larkhall; and Glasgow and Lanark. One train per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Shotts.
South Western Railway: Four trains per hour between London Waterloo and Windsor or Woking; two trains per hour between Waterloo and Basingstoke or Southampton. No trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter St Davids. No trains between Woking and Portsmouth; Wimbledon and Dorking; and Staines and Reading.
Southeastern: Most lines will have no service. Limited service will only run on the Dartford and Orpington lines into London Bridge, and the High Speed line to London St Pancras from Ashford only.
Southern: Much of the network will be shut on the strike days. Services will run on the Brighton Mainline to London Bridge and London Victoria, with extra trains from Tattenham Corner; and Epsom Downs, Sutton and West Croydon, via Crystal Palace. An amended Sunday service will operate after each strike day.
Stansted Express: Reduced service and only between 7.30am and 6.30pm
Thameslink: Much of the network will be closed on the strike days. Services will be split north and south, with no service between London St Pancras and London Bridge. An amended Sunday service will operate after each strike day.
TransPennine Express: Very limited service on routes such as Liverpool and Manchester to Lancaster, Carlisle and Scotland via Preston; and Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, Hull, York, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Edinburgh via Huddersfield. No services calling at Middlesbrough, Yarm, Thornaby, Scarborough, Seamer, Malton, Selby, Brough and Hull.
Transport for London: See separate box – major disruption expected throughout next week on Underground, Overground and Elizabeth line services.
Transport for Greater Manchester: All lines will run to their usual frequency and times, except the Altrincham to Timperley line which will only be from 7am to 7pm on the three strike dates, and at a 12-minute frequency.
Transport for Wales: Almost all services in Wales will be suspended, except from Radyr to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil – reduced to an hourly service in each direction, with a bus connection to Cardiff Central.
West Midlands Railway: No services on many routes, but limited service from Lichfield Trent Valley to Redditch / Bromsgrove (Cross City); Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton; and Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International.
And a senior NHS leader warned yesterday that the industrial action will ‘probably end up killing people’ because it will exacerbate delays for ambulances.
Half of Britain’s rail services will shut down during the walkouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week, while those that do operate a limited service will run between 7.30am and 6.30pm only.
Travel on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will also be badly affected due to the knock-on effects of the industrial action by 40,000 members of the RMT union.
Transport for London has also ‘strongly encouraged’ people not to travel on the London Underground on Tuesday because of a 24-hour walkout by the RMT and Unite.
Mr Javid warned that the ‘biggest railway strike since the 1980s’ would ‘bring the nation to a standstill’ and ‘put patients at risk’.
In a letter to Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting, he wrote: ‘The disruption these strikes will cause will make it more difficult for doctors, nurses, carers, and other healthcare staff to get into work.
‘They will also make it harder for patients to come in to see them for much-needed treatments. Some of these patients will have had to book time off work to attend their appointments.’
Mr Javid criticised Mr Streeting for expressing sympathy for workers after he appeared on the BBC’s Question Time last week. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also refused to condemn the strikes.
Mr Streeting said he would prefer it if the strikes did not take place but he would have voted for industrial action if he were a member of the RMT.
‘I would be voting to defend my job, terms and conditions,’ he said. ‘[If] you think you’re about to lose your job overnight… of course they’re fighting for their terms and conditions.’
Writing last night, Mr Javid said: ‘It is… disappointing that you have so far chosen to side with those who are causing such misery…
‘Regardless of whether we sit on the Government benches or with the Opposition, we both have a duty to put patients and NHS and social care staff first.’ Mr Javid added: ‘I know that you care about health and care in this country.
‘So please put patients first and join me in condemning the impact of these unjustified strikes which are bad for patients and bad for NHS and social care staff.’
But in a reply to the letter, Mr Streeting last night wrote: ‘You seem to have mistaken me for the Secretary of State for Transport, who is the person with the power to prevent these strikes.
‘If you and your fellow Cabinet members spent as much time doing your actual jobs as you spend on gimmicks like your letter, the strikes next week may be averted and disruption prevented.’
The Labour frontbencher added: ‘As I have said throughout, I do not want to see this strike action go ahead. You have a duty to patients and NHS staff to ensure that your government is getting round the table for urgent talks.’
There are growing concerns about how the strikes could further hamper struggling ambulance services.
A senior NHS leader, who was not identified, told the Health Service Journal yesterday: ‘Next week’s rail strikes will probably end up killing people because they’ll prevent ambulance trust staff getting to work.’
Both London Ambulance Service Trust and South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust have moved to the highest level of alert, meaning they are under extreme pressure.
Downing Street last night insisted the Government was not simply ‘standing by’ while the rail strikes loomed.
‘Ministers remain close to the situation,’ a No10 spokesman said. ‘Industry is offering daily talks with the unions and that’s what we want the unions to engage with and get back round the table.’
But the spokesman said: ‘The Government is not the employer in this case and it remains the fact that we can’t intervene in the negotiations.
Transport Secretary Mr Shapps said yesterday that workers were carrying out an ‘act of self-harm’ by walking out, claimed union bosses were driving them to do so ‘under false pretences’ and said the strikes were ‘the last thing’ they should do.
Speaking at a train depot in London, he warned striking was pointless because of the new era of working with home in which the railways are ‘in a battle’ with Zoom, telling workers: ‘Don’t risk striking yourselves out of a job’.
But Mr Cortes replied: ‘Bully boy tactics will not wash with our union when the truth is our members are fighting for their jobs, pay and for a safe railway fit for the future.’
And the Unite union warned that strikes could now spread to London’s bus network amid its concerns that a consultation on proposals to cut a number of routes in the capital could lead to hundreds of job losses.
Mr Shapps said yesterday: ‘These strikes are not only a bid to derail reforms that are critical to the network’s future, and designed to inflict damage at the worst possible time, they are also an incredible act of self-harm by the union leadership. Make no mistake, unlike the past 25 years, when rising passenger demand year after year was taken for granted by the industry, today the railway is in a fight.’
But Mr Cortes responded less than two hours later, saying: ‘If this Tory government was at all serious about stopping what looks like a summer of discontent on our railways, Shapps would have been clear in his speech that they are prepared to negotiate with us and sister unions. Sadly, and perhaps predictably, what we heard from the Transport Secretary looked very much like threats and intimidation of workers instead of constructive dialogue.’
Mr Lynch added: ‘The threats made by Grant Shapps today to railway workers’ livelihoods and their right to strike are disgraceful and will make RMT members even more fiercely determined to win this dispute.
‘Instead of playing to the gallery for his own personal political ambitions, Mr Shapps needs to act like a pragmatic Transport Secretary who is willing to meet with the union and help us reach a negotiated settlement.’
However, Downing Street said there was ‘still time’ to find a resolution to what it described as an ‘entirely self-defeating strike’ but ministers would not get directly involved in the talks – and that proposed legislation to enable the use of agency workers on the railways if the industrial action persists would take ‘weeks rather than months’.
Union bus drivers could also pile on fresh misery for commuters as they too are now threatening walkouts over proposals to cut services in the capital, as Britain braces itself for the biggest rail strikes in a generation next week.
Trade union Unite dangled the threat of industrial action if a resolution over proposals to cut bus routes in London, which they say could result in hundreds of drivers losing their jobs, is not found.
Bus drivers could strike over loss of overtime and rest day working, which is relied on to boost earnings, said Unite, as it demanded guarantees that jobs will not be lost and take-home pay will not fall under new plans.
Commuters queue for buses outside London Victoria train station during the most recent Underground strike on June 6
London Waterloo Underground station is closed during the Rail, Maritime and Transport’s Underground strike on June 6
TfL published plans on reshaping 78 routes that form part of the central and inner London bus network earlier this month as part of Government-mandated plans to induce significant savings within the operator.
‘Although the consultation period doesn’t end until July 12, meaning any industrial action won’t coincide with next week’s crippling walkouts, the threat of another round of public transport strikes will give both workers and travel bosses a fresh headache to contend with in the coming months.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘These cuts are an attempt to make London’s bus workers pay the price for the pandemic and we reject them entirely.
‘The option of Unite taking industrial action to protect our members is fully on the table. Bus cuts also always harm those who can least afford to lose the bus service – our poorest communities.
‘The mayor and the London Assembly must firmly reject TfL’s plans and stand up to the Westminster government.’
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