Rail strikes go ahead after last ditch talks fail
Rail strikes will go ahead this week after last-ditch talks failed to resolve the dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators will walk out tomorrow (21 June) and on Thursday (23) and Saturday (25), causing widespread disruption to commuters and tourists.
On the days of strike action, ScotRail will operate services on only five routes across Scotland between the hours 07.30 and 18.30. These routes are:
- Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh – Bathgate: two trains per hour
- Glasgow – Hamilton/Larkhall: two trains per hour
- Glasgow – Lanark: two trains per hour
- Edinburgh – Glasgow via Shotts: one train per hour
Network Rail will be unable to open any other signal boxes to operate passenger services on any other routes on the strike days.
Final services on the five operational routes will depart well before 18.30, so customers should plan ahead to ensure they know when their last train will run. Train times on the five available routes can be view on the ScotRail website at Network Rail Industrial Action | ScotRail.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps denied that he is ‘the problem’. He told Sky News: “The unions need to sit down with the employers because this is a highly technical discussion around 20 different areas of modernisation that are required on the railway, to make sure the railways can continue to function.
“We’ve given £16 billion of taxpayers’ money through coronavirus to make sure that none of those railway employees lost their jobs.
“So they need to work on this together between the union and the employers.”
He said: “The crazy thing about these strikes is that they are on the false pretense that there would be no pay rise, even though the public sector pay freeze is coming to an end. But they didn’t wait. They balloted their members. We want to pay them more – but they have jumped the gun.
“The train operators can offer a pay rise. The more modernisation, the better offer we can make. The average person working on the railways get £44,000 when a nurse gets £31,000. They are not paid badly.”
He added: “This is how they are thanking the public for the £16bn during the pandemic.”Treasury minister Simon Clarke told LBC: “It is simply unsustainable for unions like the RMT to be making things worse, driving unrest, damaging the economy and stoking unrealistic expectations which actually, if they were realised, would prolong and intensify inflation.”
The walkouts will also cause disruption for sports and music fans, including many of the 200,000 people heading to the Glastonbury Festival.