Despite hopes of success, the train strike will resume Rail strike | Daily News Byte

Despite hopes of success, the train strike will resume  Rail strike

 | Daily News Byte

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Train services around Britain will once again be severely disrupted as national strike action resumes on Friday, despite another union accepting Network Rail’s pay deal.

Passengers have been advised to try to travel by train only if necessary as another 48-hour strike by members of the RMT union begins this week, with three more weeks of disruption due.

Train operators said passengers should plan ahead and check with operators for the latest information, with around 20% of normal services running between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both Friday and Saturday.

Motorists in parts of England could also face potentially worse disruption, with a 12-day regional strike by members of the PCS union on national highways also starting on Friday.

Although no roads will be closed, any major incident may result in further delays due to fewer control room staff or traffic officers available.

A strike planned for Friday by baggage handlers at Heathrow was called off, however, on Thursday afternoon following last-ditch talks between Unite and Menzies Aviation. The union will now put the deal, believed to be in the region of a 10.5% increase, to a ballot, with more strikes if it is rejected after Christmas.

RMT members who are security staff at Eurostar were due to strike on Friday and Sunday, but action was called off on Wednesday to vote on the latest pay offer from employer Mitie. If it is rejected, the strike will still go ahead on December 22 and 23.

There was hope of a breakthrough in the long-running rail dispute after members of the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) union voted to accept Network Rail’s revised pay deal in a referendum.

The union, which is much smaller than the RMT, said 85% of its members voted in favor of the offer, which includes a minimum 9% pay rise by January, job security until 2025 and guarantees on terms and conditions.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) said the news showed the tide was changing, adding: “It is clear to everyone that this offer is fair and reasonable, giving workers better pay but delivering important improvements to our railways.”

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “We know there are a large number of RMT members who want this deal and we can see strike action breaking out.”

The RMT rejected the same offer, a two-year deal covering the missed January 2022 pay rise and 2023, last week.

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, met the rail minister, Hugh Merriman, and industry leaders again on Thursday afternoon, when the government said it wanted to facilitate a resolution, although it insisted pay and conditions were an issue for rail employers.

Lynch said all parties subsequently agreed to hold all-industry talks with the minister. “These meetings will be arranged, but in the meantime all industrial action will continue,” he said.

Unions say they are further away from a deal with train operating companies, with the RMT striking 14 English operators contracted with the DfT on Friday, and the TSSA also continuing limited industrial action.

The RMT’s overtime ban on train operators is also due to start on Sunday and run until the week before the strike in early January.

South Western Railway, one of the UK’s largest commuter networks, has now followed Chiltern in saying it will operate a severely reduced service due to overtime restrictions, with trains only running between 7am and 10pm until January.

The strike was partly blamed for the drop in shopper numbers this week, although cold winter weather played a part. Figures from Springboard showed overall retail footfall was down 8.6% from Monday to Wednesday and 17% on strike days on the high street compared to last week.

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