Travel chaos after government accused of ‘destroying’ denials

Rail workers withdraw again in dispute over wages and working conditions (Photos: LNP)

Trains stopped again as the strike continues in the UK today.

Thousands of rail workers are stalling after talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.

People were advised to travel by train only if “absolutely necessary”.

Those traveling to the Glastonbury Festival are among those affected – with strikes to wipe out more than half of trains heading to Somerset.

Members of Network Rail’s rail, maritime and transport (RMT) union and 13 train operators are taking industrial action, crippling services across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was accused of “destroying” the negotiations, leading to a second day of strike.

RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch said: ‘Grant Shapps ruined these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw its letter threatening redundancy for 2,900 of our members.

‘Until the government clears the rail network and the train operating companies, it will not be possible to reach a negotiated agreement.

“We will continue our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated agreement that provides job security and a pay rise for our members dealing with the escalating cost-of-living crisis.”

?  Licensed to London News Pictures.  06/23/2022.  London, United Kingdom.  Paddington Station in West London empty of passengers on second day of national rail strikes.  Rail lines across Britain are closed for three days as thousands of rail workers leave on June 21, 23 and 25 over a pay dispute.  Photo credit: Ben Cawthra/LNP

Paddington station empty on second day of national rail strikes (Photo: Ben Cawthra/LNP)

RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch on a picket outside London's Euston station as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union begin their national strike along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute for wages, jobs and conditions.  Photo Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Photo PA.  See the history of PA INDÚSTRIA Ferroviária.  Photo credit must be: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch says the Grant Shapps negotiations ‘bottomed out’ (Photo: PA)

Shapps retaliated, saying the RMT claim was a ‘lie’.

Trains will be mostly restricted to the main lines today, with about half of the network closed.

Before the strike, the government announced plans to change the law to allow companies to provide temporary workers to fill gaps during industrial action.

The ministers pointed out that under current union laws, employment companies are barred from providing temporary workers to cover strikers, saying this could have a ‘disproportionate impact’.

The legislation will repeal the ‘heavy’ legal restrictions, according to the government.

They say this will give companies affected by the strike the freedom to take advantage of the services of employment companies that can provide short-term, qualified temporary workers.

Network Rail welcomed the move, but labor and unions condemned it as a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Empty platforms are seen at King's Cross St.  Pancras in London as train services continue to be disrupted following a nationwide strike by rail, maritime and transport union members along with London Underground workers in a fierce dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.  Photo date: Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Photo PA.  See the history of PA INDÚSTRIA Ferroviária.  Photo credit must be: James Manning/PA Wire

Empty platforms are seen at King’s Cross amid industrial action (Photo: PA)

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arrives at Downing Street in London, Great Britain, June 21, 2022. REUTERS/John Sibley

Grant Shapps says union comments about ‘sinked’ negotiations are a ‘lie’ (Photo: Reuters)

Meanwhile, members of the Aslef drivers union in Greater Anglia will go on strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over wages.

The company, which is also affected by the RMT strike, advised passengers to travel only if necessary.

The Transportation Salaried Employees Association (TSSA) announced that its Merseyrail members have accepted a salary offer of 7.1%.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We are disappointed that RMT has again chosen to walk away from negotiations without reaching an agreement. We remain available for conversations – day or night – and will do everything we can to avoid further inconvenience to our passengers.

‘As a result of this unnecessary and premature strike, rail services will be much the same as they were on Tuesday – starting late in the morning and ending much earlier in the evening (around 6:30 pm).

“We urge passengers to check before travelling, be aware of when their last available train is departing and only travel by train if necessary.”

Only about one in five trains will run today and mostly on main lines during the day.

Across the UK, passengers were advised to only travel by train if absolutely necessary and to check the time of the first and last trains.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group: “With passenger numbers still at just 80% of pre-pandemic levels, the industry remains committed to offering a fair deal on payment, without receiving more than its fair share from taxpayers.

“We can only achieve this by making improvements – like offering better service on Sundays – that reflect the changing needs of passengers so we can attract more back.”

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