Biggest rail dispute in 33 years 'jeopardises' sector's recovery

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Jeopardising sector's recovery: RMT confirms biggest network dispute since 1989 (Credit: Getty/Monty Rakusen)
Jeopardising sector's recovery: RMT confirms biggest network dispute since 1989 (Credit: Getty/Monty Rakusen)

Related tags Travel Legislation Social responsibility Health and safety

More than 50,000 rail workers nationwide have been confirmed to strike later this month in the biggest network dispute since 1989, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has stated.

This comes as 89%​ of rail workers last month voted in favour of strike action, with hospitality trade body UKHospitality (UKH) having stated the strikes would jeopardise the sectors post-covid recovery.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Trains are essential across the country for the safe transport of staff and customers.

“A lack of commuter trains bringing people into towns and cities will further set back the recovery of our high streets and will also deter people from going out in the evening - especially women and vulnerable people who may rely on trains to get them home and feel safe late at night.

Vitally important

“Furthermore, as we come into the crucial summer months, disruption on the rail network will discourage both UK and international tourism – we are already hearing reports from Scotland of cancelled hotel bookings due to the dispute between Aslef and Scotrail there.”

“The transport infrastructure within the night-time economy is vitally important as we move into peak summer season for festivals and events, and a critical time for tourism, so reliant by the sector for recovery.”

The strikes, planned across multiple rail companies for Tuesday 21 June, Thursday 23 June, and Saturday 25 June, have been caused by disputes regarding pay and redundancies amid train operating companies having subjected staff to multiyear pay freezes and plans to cut thousands of jobs.

Additionally, London Underground RMT members have planned to take strike action on 21 June in a separate dispute over pensions and job losses.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.

Sustained campaign

"We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1pc and rising.

"Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.

"Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the pandemic.

"This unfairness is fuelling our members anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.

"RMT is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways."

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