Industrial strike this week will leave only 20 per cent of services running on strike days, as the RMT and TSSA union walk out in disputes over pay rises, job security and changes to working practices.
Passengers have been urged not to attempt to fly unless essential on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A narrow disruption will follow on Thursday and Sunday mornings.
Labor unrest on railways, which began over the summer, has spread to other sectors with workers including nurses, ambulance drivers, postal workers, Border Force officers and Highways Agency staff walking out this month as the UK suffers the worst of the industrial unrest. in more than three decades.
This week’s railway strikes are the start of a month of rail disruption. Network Rail, the infrastructure operator, warned of reduced service and some outages every day until 8 January, including services affected by previously planned annual Christmas engineering works. There will also be near another network shutdown in the first week of the new year.
The most significant action will come from the RMT, which has 40,000 members and is embroiled in two separate disputes with Network Rail and 14 train operating companies.
RMT leader Mick Lynch said on Tuesday there was no deal “on the horizon,” but said he hoped new conversations with industry would help “develop proposals that our members can support.”
On Monday, RMT members voted to reject Network Rail’s wages and reform package. Union leaders urged members to reject a 9 per cent wage increase over two years, while increasing wages for low-paid employees, which was linked to major changes in labor practices.
The rejection of a “substandard offer”, Lynch said, showed the members were “determined to strike further in pursuit of a negotiated settlement”.
He added that support for strikes remained high among its members. “Our members are standing by the call and they are ready to take action until we get a settlement that they can agree to. We haven’t got that at the moment and we will continue our campaign until our members say they are ready to settle,” he told the BBC on Tuesday.
But some rail executives particularly benefited from Monday’s relatively close result, with 63.6 percent voting against the bid.
Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said RMT leadership “need to think long and hard about what to do next”. The TSSA union urged members to accept a similar deal, with an outcome expected in the coming days, while Unite members on Monday endorsed their own agreement.