Train strikes may continue into autumn, RMT chief warns

Train strikes may continue into autumn, RMT chief warns

Train strikes could extend into the fall, a union chief has warned, as the country braces for the biggest industrial action in a generation this week.

Mick Lynch, secretary general of the Union of Railways, Maritime and Transport (RMT), said unions were not looking to make concessions after talks with rail chiefs failed to progress over the weekend.

A series of strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators will take place on Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday, amid an ongoing dispute over wages and pensions. Workers at RMT and Unite will also make a standstill on the London Underground on Tuesday.

Lynch told the i newspaper that the public may have to accept the disruption that extends beyond the summer, saying “there doesn’t seem to be much evidence at the moment that it’s going to happen any other way.”

“The TSSA [union], which represents around 6,000 employees of the Rail Network is voting, Aslef, who together with us organizes the train drivers, has around six or seven ballots being returned on July 11 – just a few weeks away. If there is no deal, I can only see it escalating.”

A union source told the Telegraph that the RMT had a “six-month strike mandate”, stoking fears that industrial action could last until Christmas.

The union can call strikes fifteen days in advance until the end of November, six months after the delivery of poll results at the end of May, the newspaper reported.

Mick Lynch from RMT (PA Wire)

Mick Lynch from RMT (PA Wire)

A Network Rail source told the paper that this week’s industrial action was “unlikely” to be one-off, with railroad bosses fearing it could escalate into a “battle of attrition”.

Earlier on Sunday, Lynch claimed that “people can’t take it anymore” as he defended the attacks during an interview with Sky News.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge, Mr. Lynch said, “I think there will be a lot of unions voting across the country because people can’t take it anymore.

“We have people working full-time who need to receive state benefits and use food banks. This is a national shame.”

Unions representing NHS teachers and workers have already threatened to act if salary increases do not rise in line with inflation.

The strike action of the RMT itself will take place on June 21, 23 and 25.

Amid allegations that the RMT is “designing” an industrial action by the Secretary of Transport, Mr. Lynch added: “We don’t want to be the cause of disruption in people’s lives. We want a solution to this dispute, but we are facing a crisis for our members.

“If we don’t play our hand, thousands of my members will lose their jobs, rail services will be cut, the security regime that has been in place for a long time will be reduced.

“We have to fight this.

“As we have not had any salary increases, we face thousands of job cuts and they want to end the terms and conditions in a form of firing and rehiring internal to the railroad. It’s as relentless as P&O really.

“We are available to negotiate.”

Shapps said the RMT misbehaved during the negotiations but dismissed the government’s ability to enter negotiations in what he called a “coup” by the union.

He said: “They are preparing for this strike action, I fear, and it will upset millions of Britons.

“It’s disastrous. That’s no way to behave on the railroad. There is no advantage in that. I know Mick Lynch says he’s ‘nostalgic for union power’, but that’s no way to behave”.

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