Disputes drag on

Fresh industrial action to hit festive season

Mick Lynch RMT
Mick Lynch: talks have stalled

A winter of strike action looks inevitable as rail workers, nurses, security staff and civil servants join nationwide stoppages over pay disputes.

More than 40,000 rail workers will walk out on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December, followed by further strikes on January 3, 4, 6 and 7. 

The RMT union said there will also be an overtime ban across the railway network from 18 December until 2 January.

The action is separate to a pay dispute being negotiated with ScotRail. A series of ScotRail strikes that would have continued until Christmas Eve were suspended pending an announcement on Thursday on the latest offer.

The UK-wide rail walk-outs were announced as 1,200 G4S security staff vote for their first-ever walk-out on 4 December which could leave supermarkets and even banks without cash.

About 100,000 civil servants voted last week to strike, while nurses are expected to strike in early December.

More than 70,000 university staff are striking for three days this month. Firefighters and teachers are also considering strike action.

The rail union called off three planned 24-hour walkouts at the eleventh hour earlier this month amid hopes of a breakthrough in long running talks with the Rail Delivery Group.

But general secretary Mick Lynch said talks with Network Rail had stalled. He said the bosses of 14 train firms involved in the dispute had also failed to make a formal offer in writing despite nearly six months of talks.

Avanti West Coast services between London Euston and Glasgow, which stop at Manchester and Birmingham, will run on a reduced timetable from Christmas Eve to 30 December.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: “Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “This latest bout of rail strikes is the last thing retailers need at what is shaping up to be a make or break festive trading period for many stores.

“City centre retailers have already been battered by the exodus of commuters during the pandemic and have seen sales take a further knock due to the galloping cost of living.

“The revenues stores earn in the lead up to Christmas helps tide them over the leaner period in the early months of the new year. 

“This further train disruption could deter shoppers and derail retail’s recovery and it is imperative both sides in the dispute get back round the negotiating table as soon as possible and thrash out a solution.”

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