Brits, we could be in for a very, very chaotic summer. Not only are our planes and airports up the shoot, but our rail network looks like it’ll soon be thrown into disarray, too. Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have said they will strike for three days later this month.
On June 21, 23 and 25, over 50,000 members of the RMT union will walk out across 13 operators, from CrossCountry and TransPennine Express to LNER and Southeastern. The RMT says it’s the biggest rail strike in the UK since 1989 – needless to say, huge areas of Britain’s rail network will be brought to a standstill.
So why has a strike been called? Well, the RMT says that railways workers have been subjected to pay freezes since 2020 which, considering the recent levels of inflation and the cost of living crisis, actually amount to pay cuts. On top of that, the union says that Network Rail is planning to cut 2,500 jobs across the network. RMT members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike in a ballot last month.
Network Rail, in response, says it is trying to cut costs and modernise its services following huge losses during the pandemic.
To make matters worse, Londoners will also face a tube strike on June 21. Ten thousand RMT members on the London Underground will walk out for 24 hours in protest of TfL’s plan to slash jobs at tube stations.
If the nationwide rail strike goes ahead, Network Rail will be affected, plus these operators: Avanti West Coast, c2c, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, East Midlands Railway, LNER, Northern Trains, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
There is, of course, the chance that the strike may still be avoided and the RMT and Network Rail could yet negotiate a deal to avoid industrial action. Given the last few months of escalation, however, this seems increasingly unlikely.
Did you see that staff at Heathrow could go on strike this summer?