November 26, 2022

The biggest train strike in 30 years has brought the UK to a standstill

  • More than 40,000 train workers are set to go on strike
  • The government is under pressure due to the cost of living crisis
  • The unions say the strike could start a ‘summer of discontent’

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) – Britain’s largest train strike in 30 years began on Tuesday as tens of thousands of workers went on strike over wages and jobs that could lead to widespread industrial activity across the economy in the coming months.

Some of the more than 40,000 train workers who were to go on strike on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday had gathered on the picket tracks since dawn, causing the network to freeze and the main stations to be deserted. The London Underground Metro was also largely closed due to a separate strike.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that under pressure to do more to help British families facing severe economic hardship for decades, industrial action could hurt businesses as they recover from the epidemic.

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Trade unions, train strikes, teachers, doctors, waste disposal workers and even barristers have all said the move could mark the beginning of a “summer of discontent” moving toward industrial action. read more

“British workers need pay rises,” Mick Lynch, secretary general of the Railways, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), told Sky News.

“They need job security, decent conditions and a square contract in general.

Johnson said the unions are harming people who claim to help.

“By moving forward with these train strikes, they will eventually drive out commuters who support the jobs of rail staff, while at the same time affecting businesses and communities across the country,” he told his cabinet on Tuesday.

The government has faced criticism from opposition lawmakers for refusing to engage in negotiations to resolve the dispute. Ministers say it is a matter for the unions to work directly with the railway bosses.

A poll by Yukov earlier this month found that public opinion on the strikes was divisive, with half of those questioned questioning the move and a third saying they supported it.

Leo Rudolph, a 36-year-old lawyer who went to work, said he would be even more dissatisfied if the dispute persisted.

“It’s not an isolated incident, is it?” He told Reuters. “I’m definitely going to get more frustrated every time this happens.”

Devastating inflation

The UK economy initially recovered strongly from the COVID-19 epidemic, but a combination of labor shortages, supply chain disruption, inflation and post-Brexit trade issues triggered warnings of a recession.

The government says it will provide additional support to millions of poor families, but says rising wages over inflation will damage the foundations of the economy.

“High inflation will have a huge impact on people’s pay pockets in the long run, destroying savings and prolonging the difficulties we face in the long run,” Johnson said.

Industrial activity erupted in comparison to the 1970s, when Britain faced widespread labor strikes, including the 1978-79 “winter of discontent”. read more

The number of British workers who have been union members has halved since the 1970s as former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tightened control of union powers and made it harder to strike. .

Transport Minister Grant Shops said the government would soon change the law to force train operators to provide minimum service on strike days and allow other workers to temporarily replace outgoing workers.

“We are going to take action to ensure that things like this do less damage in the future,” he told Sky News.

The strikes come at a time when passengers at British airports are experiencing last-minute cancellations due to chaotic delays and staff shortages, while many Britons have had to wait months for new passports to arrive due to processing delays.

The train strike means that only half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days.

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Editing by Edmund Blair, Kate Holden and Raisa Kasolovsky

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