Rail strike threat to exams has 'unacceptable' impact on students' lives

10 June 2022, 08:42

Strikes mustn't interrupt children getting to exams, minister urges

By Asher McShane

A minister told LBC this morning that a major rail strike later this month will have an ‘unacceptable’ long-term impact on children’s lives.

Minister for School Standards Robin Walker told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast this morning: “I'm deeply concerned.

“It's a great and positive thing that we have exams underway and that students are reaping the rewards of all their hard work over the years by being able to take part in those.

“ It would be terrible if in any way this were disrupted by further industrial action.

“I understand at least one of the days that’s been mooted is on a weekend, which is welcome from my perspective.

Read more: Thousands more school and sixth form places to be created as part of levelling up agenda

“But fundamentally, I don't want to see strikes interrupting children's opportunities in life and I think the unions need to think very carefully about this, need to recognise that they are better off coming back to the negotiating table, engaging in a constructive negotiation about the future of railways in which the government has invested £16billion to keep them running through the pandemic, and make sure, actually, that they can deliver on their public sector duty to get people to schools to work.

“And that's something that I think I would strongly urge that they don't disrupt the exam period. That has a long-term impact on children's lives and I just think that will be unacceptable.”

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are set to strike on Network Rail and 13 train companies later this month, while the RMT and Unite have announced a walkout on London Underground as well.

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

The disputes are over pay, jobs and pensions, with the unions complaining that railway staff who worked through the pandemic are facing job cuts, a pay freeze and attacks on employment conditions.

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

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