Sunday, June 26, 2022

Lisa Nandy offers support to RMT railway workers ahead of planned train strikes

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The strikes will be the largest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

The planned RMT strikes, Britain’s biggest rail strike in almost a century, will bring the country to a standstill at the end of the month as thousands of workers protest for wages, jobs and pensions.

Lisa Nandy, one of Sir Keir Starmer’s former leadership rivals, has offered support to rail workers who will go on strike later this month.

The strikes will be the largest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

Shadow Leveling Up Secretary has now expressed her condolences to the strikers. Speaking of Good Morning Britain from ITVShe said: “We want to avoid the strikes and we are on the side of the public.

“We are also on the side of the railway workers and I spoke to some railway workers on Monday just before I got on the train to go to London.

“They’re dealing with the same pressures as everyone else – the cost of food, the cost of rising inflation, rising taxes and they’re really struggling to make ends meet.

“They are the people we applauded during the pandemic for keeping our services running and for the last decade their real wages have come under attack.”

The strikes threaten travel chaos later this month when the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced that members of Network Rail and 13 train operators will disembark on June 21, 23 and 25.

A Tube strike has also been announced for June 21, which will bring Transport for London to a standstill and disrupt journeys for millions of London commuters.

The disputes revolve around wages, jobs and pensions, with unions complaining that railway workers who have worked during the pandemic are facing job cuts, a wage freeze and attacks on employment conditions.

Unite said 1,000 of its members in London will take action against pay and warnings of pension cut plans.

Network Rail is preparing contingency plans with the strikes expected to disrupt service for six days from the first strike on Tuesday 21st June to the day after the third strike.

Less than every fifth train is likely to operate, and only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., probably only on main lines.

The strikes threaten widespread travel disruption during a number of major events including concerts, Test match cricket and the Glastonbury Festival.

Glastonbury begins June 22, while this week also sees England take on New Zealand in a friendly in Leeds, the British Athletics Championships in Manchester and performances by Sir Elton John (June 24) and The Rolling Stones (June 24) in London’s Hyde Park 25).

There is also a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government on 24-25 June in London and 25 June is Armed Forces Day.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in the negotiations, the rail industry, with support from the Government, has not taken their concerns seriously.

“We have a cost-of-living crisis and it is unacceptable that rail workers either lose their jobs or face another year of wage freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising.

“Our union will now launch an ongoing campaign of industrial action that will shut down the rail system.”

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said the organization was “doing everything we can” to avoid the strike action.

The Government has been extremely critical of the plans, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging unions to get back to the table.

He wrote on Twitter: “The very disappointing RMT union are taking action that could damage the rail network after taxpayers contributed £16billion, £600 per household, to keep jobs alive during Covid.

“We are working with industry to reduce the disruption caused by strikes, but urge unions to hold talks with employers.”

Karl McCartney, Tory MP for Lincoln, said that telegraph that the unions are “blackmailing the country”.

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