Britain faces a summer of dissatisfaction with more workers to be called to strike action, a union boss has warned, as a spate of strikes will cripple the rail network.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has predicted industrial action could spread to other services, arguing that “people can’t take it anymore”.
Unions representing teachers and NHS workers have also threatened industrial action over pay.
Speaking of before three days of staggered rail strikeswhich will cause widespread disruption for millions of train passengers, he insisted he wanted to reach an agreement, but his members had no choice but to “fight”.
But Mr Lynch has been accused by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of “firing” strikes, which he says would be “disastrous” for the industry.
Mr Lynch told Sky News’ program Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I think there’s going to be a lot of union elections across the country because people can’t take it anymore.
“We have people who have full-time jobs who need government benefits and use food banks. This is a national disgrace.”
He confirmed his union would push strikes over wages, working conditions and job losses.
The strikes will take place on Tuesday 21st, Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th June.
But Network Rail said the industrial action will cause disruption for six days as services are impacted on the days in between.
It threatens to be the start of a summer of discontent amid widespread concerns about the cost of living Crisis as inflation forecast to exceed 11% later this year.
Mr Lynch added: “We don’t want to be the cause of disruption in people’s lives. We want this dispute resolved, but we face a crisis for our members.
“If we don’t play along, thousands of my members will lose their jobs, rail services will be rolled back, the long-standing security system will be rolled back.
“We have to fight this.
“Because we haven’t had raises, we’re facing thousands of layoffs, and they want to rip out the terms in a form of fire and reinstatement that’s internal to the railroad. It’s really just as ruthless as P&O.
“We are available for negotiations.”
He also said claims by the Transport Secretary that the union refused to attend Saturday’s talks to avert the strikes were “a complete fabrication”.
Mr Lynch said: “He’s making it up. What he says is not true. No negotiations were planned.”
He added: “If there is no agreement, we will continue our campaign.”
The battle for the future of train travel will rage on
Anyone hoping for a last-minute breakthrough to avert these strikes today will be disappointed when listening to the main actors today.
Both sides blame each other for the failure of the talks, with accusations of lying and bad faith already being made.
But even in detail, the situation looks irreconcilable.
The RMT appears to be asking for 7% pay rises, while the offer on the table appears to be in the 2-3% range.
Ministers have already expressed their opposition to a large wage increase, believing it would fuel inflation and allow other sectors to demand more money.
Those demands are likely to come anyway, however, along with the risk of strikes spreading to other workplaces in the coming months.
But there is a deeper and more specific conflict here about the future shape of the railroads.
The government and railway operators have been pushing for changes in the industry for years.
We’ve already had arguments about moving to driver-only operation.
Ticket offices appear to be another focal point now, with mass closures a possibility as more people book their travel online and use contactless payments.
These bickerings may all pale in comparison to the inevitable battle that will eventually come over increasing automation and driverless trains.
The pandemic has further exacerbated the situation as the way we all work and travel has changed and the government wants to reclaim some of the money put in to keep the sector afloat.
But what ministers see as modernization, unions see as cutting costs and threatening livelihoods.
Therefore, even if a payment solution can be found now, this fight for the future of rail travel will not go away anytime soon.
But Mr Shapps told Ridge: “You’re shooting at this strike action, I’m afraid, and it’s going to inconvenience millions of Britons.
“It’s disastrous. It’s not a way to behave on the railroad. There’s no benefit to it. I know Mick Lynch says he’s ‘nostalgic for the power of unions’, but that’s not a way to behave .”
He dismissed calls by the RMT for government intervention to settle the rail dispute as a “stunt”.
Mr Shapps said: “Unions know only the union and the employer can settle this.
“I’m not going to thwart that. I will not undermine the employer’s work.
“This is an 11 hour stunt by the union suddenly stepping out and saying ‘we need to negotiate with the government now’, even though they told me last month they wouldn’t be seen dead if they spoke to the government negotiate.”
He added: “Of course it’s a reality that if we can’t modernize these railways, if we can’t achieve the kind of efficiency that means they can operate in the interests of the traveling public, then of course it jeopardizes the future of the.” train itself.
“I think it’s a huge act of self-harm to go on strike at the moment.
“I don’t think workers are anywhere as militant as their unions that lead them on the Garden Path. They shoot at this strike. He is completely unnecessary.”
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “No one should want them to continue.
“But here’s the truth, Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps want the strikes to continue.
“They want the country to come to a standstill so they can feed off the division.
“Instead of spending their time at the negotiating table this week, they are drafting attack ads.
“Instead of having mature conversations to take the heat out of the situation, they add fuel to the fire.
“Instead of bringing people together in the national interest, they fuel division in their political interest.”
Rail union boss predicts strikes will spread to more sectors | News from politics
Source link Rail union boss predicts strikes will spread to more sectors | News from politics