UK rail workers announce July 27 strike in pay row
LONDON (Reuters) – British rail workers and station staff will strike this month in disputes over pay and conditions, two unions said, announcing the latest in a growing catalogue of industrial unrest as workers demand wage rises to cope with soaring inflation.
The 24-hour walkout by members of the RMT and TSSA will take place on July 27, the unions said on Wednesday, leaving travellers facing further disruption during the school holidays after tens of thousands of striking workers brought Britain’s rail network close to a standstill last month.
The RMT said Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in Britain, had made an offer of 4%, followed by a possible 4% the following year dependent on staff accepting changes to their contracts.
Inflation in Britain is due expected to rise above 10% later this year but the government has urged businesses to exercise restraint in pay settlements to avoid fuelling what it says would be an inflationary spiral.
“The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members and the paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives,” general secretary Mick Lynch said in statement.
“Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes.”
Transport Minister Grant Shapps criticised the union for rejecting the pay offer, saying in a statement that RMT was “hellbent on causing further misery for people across the country”.
The TSSA said its members in station roles at Avanti West Coast – the west coast mainline operator of routes, including London to Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow – would strike on the same day to coincide with the RMT action.
Separately, the TSSA said 700 of its members working for other rail operators had voted in favour industrial action, but dates had not yet been set.
Earlier this week, other groups of British rail and transport workers also voted in favour of strike action.
Staff at airlines and airports have also taken action or are planning walk-outs.
(Reporting by William James, Farouq Suleiman and Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Alison Williams and Aurora Ellis)