The rail strike picks up again in the face of inflation

Still no or few trains in UK. After disrupting the festive season, the six-month-long transport strikes resumed on Tuesday with a vengeance. The rail workers have planned a five-day walkout with “severe disruption” to trains at stake.

Around 40,000 rail workers working for Network Rail, the public manager of the rail network, but also 14 private train companies, are observing a four-day strike called by the RMT union. The train drivers’ union, Aslef, calls for an extra working day. The RMT, which launched the sector’s biggest strike in 30 years in June, is asking for better wages in light of inflation, which is close to 11% nationally, but also guarantees for working conditions. The union accuses the Conservative government of blocking negotiations.

Network Rail has warned that “severe disruption” is expected across parts of the rail network this week and is urging Britons to “only travel if absolutely necessary”. “The unions have decided they want to strike this week, which is totally unnecessary, hurts the rail sector, hurts the interests of the people who work there,” Transport Minister Mark Harper condemned on Sky News on Tuesday.

Strikes in several sectors

The minister assures that “hard work” is being done to resolve the conflict between the railway companies and the unions and indicates that an offer is on the table. But for the general secretary of the RMT, Mick Lynch, on the contrary, it is the executive that is “undermining efforts to reach a deal” by imposing strict conditions on rail companies’ negotiators. “We cannot accept the current proposal. We need new elements in the equation to be able to find solutions”, he declared and believed that an agreement “is possible in the coming days”.

Labor strikes have multiplied in many sectors in recent months in the UK, particularly affecting health in December with a strike by nurses and then paramedics, but also postal workers and even telecoms operators. Transport has already been disrupted over the holidays by strikes by rail workers, but also by UK highway traffic officers and Border Police, who have forced the deployment of soldiers at several UK airports.

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