'Biggest rail strike in modern history' to go ahead after last-ditch pay talks fail

18 June 2022, 08:31 | Updated: 18 June 2022, 09:39

RMT has confirmed rail strikes will go ahead next week.
RMT has confirmed rail strikes will go ahead next week. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The "biggest rail strike in modern history" will go ahead next week after talks failed to resolve a row over pay, jobs and conditions.

Staff will walk out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday because "no viable settlements to the disputes have been created", the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said in a statement on Saturday.

Half of Britain's rail lines will close completely during the strikes, with a reduced timetable in place from Monday through to Sunday.

Health bosses warned the walkouts could result in people dying, with medics not being able to get to work, while the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said rail workers risk "striking yourselves out of a job".

The action by tens of thousands of rail workers will cripple services for most of the week - with passengers urged to avoid travelling.

The disruption is on a collision course with Glastonbury, the England v New Zealand test in Leeds, and GCSE exams - to name a few.

Read more: Everything you need to know about next week's rail strikes

Minister says Congestion Charge should be dropped on strike days

The RMT said workers are striking as Network Rail is lining up 2,500 job cuts in rail maintenance.

As well as the looming threat of job cuts, workers are also striking over pay, demanding an increase in line with inflation.

The RMT said it's held discussions with Network Rail over the past few weeks, train operators and London Underground - but no viable settlement has been reached.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch called for a "better deal for workers" and a "fairer society" as he confirmed that strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators, and the London Underground, will go ahead.

"Every worker in Britain deserves a pay rise that reflects the cost-of-living crises," he said.

Read more: Minister calls on Mayor of London to drop congestion charge on rail strike days

Read more: Rail strikes could 'end up killing people': warning from health chiefs ahead of walkout

"All working people should have the benefit of good negotiated terms, conditions, working practices and occupational pensions that will ensure their living standards in retirement.

"We call on the entire labour movement and the working people to rally to the support of the RMT and our members in this struggle.

"The RMT will support every group of workers who organise and fight for these aims and we call for joint campaigning and coordinated action to achieve a better deal for workers and a fairer society.

"RMT remains available for discussions that will settle this dispute and ensure our transport system can operate without disruption."

Map showing the open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25. Not all stations will be served, and service levels will be significantly reduced on open lines, from 7.30am to 6.30pm only.
Map showing the open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25. Not all stations will be served, and service levels will be significantly reduced on open lines, from 7.30am to 6.30pm only. Picture: Network Rail

He previously told LBC rail staff "aren't being paid enough".

On Thursday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned RMT union rail workers they risk "striking [themselves] out of a job" by walking out next week.

"For millions of passengers, rail is now a choice, not a necessity," he said.

Rail strikes will go ahead next week, the RMT has confirmed.
Rail strikes will go ahead next week, the RMT has confirmed. Picture: Alamy

"Anything that stops people choosing rail, anything that drives away even more passengers than we've already lost has to be bad news for jobs and services.

"So today, I appeal directly to rail workers, who I think are less militant than their union leaders. Don't risk striking your industry out of a future. Don't risk striking yourselves out of a job.

"Don't pitch yourselves against the public."

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said "no one wins in the event of a strike".

"The action next week will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and people attending important business and leisure events," the spokesperson said.

"Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times."

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