Two Railway Strikes by Separate Unions Set for End of July
14:41 GMT 14.07.2022 (Updated: 15:35 GMT 14.07.2022)
The spiraling cost of living — caused by Western sanctions on Russia — has prompted strike threats from workers in a number of sectors, even including doctors, who are demanding a 30 percent raise this year.
Rail workers at eight private train operating companies (TOCs) across the UK will strike over pay at the end of July.
Rail union ASLEF
, which represents train drivers, announced the industrial action for July 30 on Thursday, a day after pay talks with the employers broke down amid soaring inflation rates.
"We don’t want to go on strike — strikes are the result of a failure of negotiation," said ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan. "Our friends and families use public transport, too, and we believe in building trust in the railways in Britain".
"But we’ve been forced into this position by the train companies, driven by the Tory government," he insisted. "The drivers at the companies where we are striking have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years — since April 2019."
Whelan said the union was seeking a pay rise in line with the cost of living, with inflation already over nine percent and forecast to rise to 11 percent later this year. "We want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021," the union leader said.
On Wednesday, the Rail, Maritime and Transport
union (RMT) already called a follow-up to their strikes in June at infrastructure company Network Rail
— over a variety of issues, including job cuts — on July 27
The Department for Transport (DfT) responded by accusing ASLEF of coordinating their strike with the RMT.
"It is very disappointing that, rather than commit to serious dialogue with the industry, ASLEF are first seeking to cause further misery to passengers by joining others in disrupting the rail network," it said.
Also on Thursday, the RMT hailed victory
after winning a seven percent pay rise from TOC Merseyrail, jointly owned by Serco and Abelio.
"It is clear we can win decent pay rises on train operators when they are not under the auspices of the DfT and when free collective bargaining can take place," RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said — a rare word of praise for rail privatization.
The union pointed out that it had already won higher pay settlements of 8.4 percent from London Underground 8.2 percent from MTR Crossrail 9.25 percent on the Docklands Light Railway, all parts of London's public transport network.
"We want negotiated settlements in all our industrial disputes, and we are not afraid to use strike action where needed," Lynch said.
The spiraling cost of living — caused by Western sanctions on Russia
— has prompted strike threats from workers in a number of sectors, even including doctors, who are demanding a 30 percent rise
in pay this year.