Rail passengers in Britain are enduring the longest and most damaging sequence of strikes because the Nineteen Eighties.
The bitter dispute between the rail unions, Network Rail and the prepare operators is about to enter its seventh month – with deliberate disruption unmatched this century set for earlier than Christmas and after New Year.
The dates are 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January.
Between the pre-Christmas and post-New Year strikes, from 18 December to 2 January, an extra time ban will probably be in place.
If the stoppage goes forward it would represent the most important sustained industrial motion on the railways since 1989.
So far this 12 months the RMT has known as 11 days of nationwide strikes. In October three days of walk-outs had been known as off at brief discover, however widespread disruption was nonetheless felt over the course of per week.
In addition, white-collar employees for a lot of prepare operators and Network Rail plan industrial motion, whereas Eurostar safety employees have introduced a pre-Christmas walk-out.
Train drivers working for round a dozen rail corporations – together with intercity giants Avanti West Coast, GWR and LNER – have to this point staged 5 days of nationwide motion.
Regionally, a variety of commercial motion from extra time bans to native walk-outs are inflicting additional disruption, whereas Eurostar could be hit by a strike by security staff on the busiest days before Christmas.
What are the strikes about?
There are a number of disputes involving many employers:
- Network Rail – the infrastructure supplier, operating the tracks, signalling and a few massive stations
- Fourteen prepare operators, who’re contracted by the Department for Transport (DfT) to run specified schedules.
Four unions are concerned:
- RMT, the principle rail union
- Aslef, representing prepare drivers
- Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), the union for white-collar employees within the transport business
- Unite, representing some grades and roles in some prepare operators
But key components are frequent to all of the disputes:
- Pay, which the unions say ought to keep in mind the present excessive inflation
- Jobs, and specifically the prospect of obligatory redundancies
- Working circumstances – with the unions decided to extract a premium from any productiveness enhancements, however the employers saying any pay rise is contingent on modernisation
In addition, the RMT says members are “striking against proposed cuts that would make the railways permanently inaccessible for many disabled and vulnerable passengers”.
When is the following nationwide strike?
On Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 Decemeber members of the RMT union will stroll out at Network Rail and 14 prepare operators. The motion will probably be repeated on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 December.
For 4 days of stoppages, the union intends to trigger disruption over a complete week – which might usually be one of many busiest of the 12 months for rail journey.
Which prepare operators are concerned?
Six of them are primarily intercity operators:
- Avanti West Coast*
- East Midlands Railway*
- Great Western Railway*
- TransPennine Express*
The remaining eight are primarily regional operators:
- Greater Anglia*
- GTR (together with Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink)
- South Western Railway
- West Midlands Trains*
Those marked with an asterisk are additionally concerned in disputes with the prepare drivers’ union, Aslef.
How unhealthy will the disruption be?
The results of those strikes is now nicely established. The walk-out by round 5,000 Network Rail signallers means half the rail community will probably be closed, with a much-reduced service on the rest of traces.
Non-union members will allow a skeleton service to run between 7.30am and 6.30pm, primarily on key intercity traces linking London with Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Edinburgh, plus suburban traces round London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and southern Scotland.
Will it have an effect on different days?
Yes. In addition to the chosen dates the stoppage will trigger minor disruption on the day earlier than however main issues on the times after.
It might be that “strike schedules” will apply on Thursday 15 December, as a result of RMT members will stroll out for one more 48 hours on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 December – with the influence lasting into Sunday 18 December.
Similarly within the New Year, some trains will probably be cancelled on Monday 2 January the day earlier than the strikes resume. Thursday 5 January will see severe disruption, and schedules will probably be tousled on Sunday 8 January, making it one other full week of uncertainty for the traveller.
What is the TSSA doing?
The white-collar union has introduced a sequence of strikes.
The TSSA has known as a walk-out by employees at Avanti West Coast to coincide with the already introduced stoppages by members of the RMT union. They will strike in two 48-hour blocks: 13-14 and 16-17 December.
The union says the employees concerned work “in a range of operational, station, revenue, on-board and management roles”. The stoppage is prone to diminished the “strike timetable” operated on these days on the West Coast most important line.
TSSA members on c2c, Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, Southeastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains, in addition to Network Rail, will stroll out on 17 December – coinciding with the ultimate day of RMT nationwide motion earlier than Christmas.
“Action short of a strike” begins before that, on 13 December. It includes members working for Network Rail and 11 prepare operators finishing up “only contractually required duties”.
The union says: “TSSA members will not cover the duties of other rail workers who may be involved in strike action.”
The operators concerned are Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, GTR, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
“Further industrial action over the Christmas and New Year period is being actively considered,” the TSSA warns.
What do the warring sides say?
Mick Lynch, normal secretary of the RMT union, says: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.
“We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of government is presiding over these talks.”
He has accused the transport secretary, Mark Harper, of blocking a proposed settlement. The Department for Transport (DfT) rejects this.
A DfT spokesperson mentioned: “With our railways remaining in desperate need of reform, we once again urge unions to call off damaging strike action and work with employers to agree a way forward that is fair for taxpayers, passengers and workers alike.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) has studiously sought to distance itself from the fierce negotiations between Network Rail, the prepare operators and the unions.
Yet with the overwhelming majority of trains specified by ministers and underwritten with billions of kilos of taxpayers’ money, the eventual settlement have to be signed off by the Treasury.
Mick Whelan, normal secretary of Aslef, met Mr Harper on the DfT on Wednesday 30 November.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, representing prepare operators, mentioned: “For the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.
“Further strikes, especially in the run up to Christmas, will disrupt the first normal festive season our passengers have been able to look forward to since the Covid pandemic, taking even more money out of the pockets of railway staff, and will cause huge damage to the hospitality and retail sectors dependent on this time of the year for their businesses. We owe it to them to stay round the table.
“Industrial action has already cost the industry millions in lost revenue, is stalling its post-pandemic recovery, and threatening its long-term sustainability.”
Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s director of operations, mentioned: “The RMT is going to inflict on our country, our passengers and our industry an unprecedented and sustained period of rail disruption across the entire festive period that will have a massive impact on businesses and our economy.
“The rail industry is already well advanced in its planning and will do all it can to run as many services as it can across the Christmas and New Year period. But passengers need to be prepared for weeks of disruption as a result of the RMT’s chosen course of action.”
What different disruption is deliberate?
Local industrial disputes, a choice to not work extra time and what the prepare operators say are greater than normal ranges of employees illness are inflicting widespread disruption.
Aslef has withdrawn all non-contractual extra time at LNER on the East Coast most important line. The union’s normal secretary accuses the state-run agency of exhibiting “a complete disregard for the agreements which shape our members’ working lives”.
But Warrick Dent, LNER’s security and operations director, says: “We are confident that our contingency plans will keep disruption to LNER services to a minimum.”
On East Midlands Railway (EMR), members of the Unite union are taking strike motion on Friday 2, Saturday 3, Friday 23 and Saturday 24 December.
The prepare operator warns: “We will operate significantly fewer services that usual on these days, and on some EMR Regional routes no services at all.
“EMR are unable to run any train services to/from Lincoln for the Christmas Market on either Friday 2 or Saturday 3 December.”
On the principle intercity routes from Sheffield by way of Derby and from Nottingham to Leicester and London, one prepare will run every hour between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
In addition, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express are each working considerably diminished schedules till 10 December, blaming a drop in prepare crew extra time and “higher-than-normal sickness levels” respectively.
What about Eurostar?
Members of the RMT union working at London St Pancras as safety employees for Eurostar will stroll out on 4 days in a dispute over pay: Friday 16, Sunday 18, Thursday 22 and Friday 23 December.
The dates have been chosen to coincide with what are anticipated to be the busiest days earlier than Christmas, particularly for British passengers heading overseas on trains via the Channel Tunnel.
Services are already anticipated to be disrupted by the separate nationwide RMT strike involving Network Rail employees: between 13 and 17 December some early and late trains are prone to be cancelled.
The RMT union says greater than 100 safety employees – who’re contracted out to the services administration firm Mitie – will participate within the motion, and that it’s going to “severely affect Eurostar services and travel plans for people over the December period”.
A Mitie spokesperson mentioned: “We’re disappointed that RMT has made the decision to undertake industrial action, given we have already offered a significant pay increase and pay negotiations are ongoing. We remain open to continuing these discussions.”
A Eurostar spokesperson mentioned: “We are aware that negotiations between Mitie and the unions are ongoing.
“If there is any impact on services we will update customers as soon as possible.”
I’ve a ticket booked for a strike day. What are my choices?
Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strikes can typically use their ticket for journey on days both facet of the strike days.
Alternatively they will search a refund.
But be cautious about spending on occasions or motels that may require you to journey by prepare. While you’re going to get your a refund on rail tickets when trains are cancelled, “consequential losses” is not going to be coated. So non-refundable spending will probably be misplaced in the event you can’t make the journey.
Are future strikes seemingly – and when will we hear about them?
Mick Lynch, normal secretary of the RMT union, says: “This union is determined to continue with this campaign until the employers understand that they need to respond to our members’ aspirations on job security, pay and working conditions.”
His union says that the common member earns £31,000 and has not had a pay rise in three years.
Unions should give 14 days discover of a strike, and often announce them near this deadline. When a sequence of strikes known as, as on 5-7-9 November, they’re introduced in a single go.
Why isn’t there a steady strike of the sort we have now seen prior to now?
Rail unions can influence nearly a whole week by stopping work for 3 days – inflicting most disruption for minimal lack of wages.
Are any elements of the UK unaffected by these rail strikes?
Yes, to this point railways in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wight have averted all industrial motion.
Where will this all finish?
It may take months. Rail employees inform me they really feel undervalued and that stopping work is the one option to obtain a good settlement.
But ticket income for the railway has slumped since Covid, and the employers say they need to stability the books – with pay rises contingent on modernising and slicing prices.
Meanwhile passengers are caught in the midst of an apparently intractable dispute, going through one other day of wrecked journey plans, whereas the taxpayer picks up the invoice for the monetary harm the strike will trigger.
At a time when the railway desperately wants to draw new passengers, confidence in prepare journey is at an all-time low.
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