Train strikes: Union boss warns action may continue for months
Train strikes could continue for months more, the boss of Britain’s largest rail union has warned. Mick Lynch said the RMT union, which began its latest walkouts on Tuesday, had a mandate to take action up until May, and could “go further”.
People returning to work after the Christmas break have been urged to avoid traveling by rail this week because of strikes running to Saturday. The action is over pay and conditions, but one party said a deal was close.
Mr Lynch apologised for the action “dragging on” but accused the government of “doing nothing” about the dispute. He warned if there was no deal, then workers would continue to strike.
“We’ve got a mandate that runs through to May this year, and if we have to go further, that’s what we’ll need to do,” he warned.
However, Network Rail, which owns and maintains the railways, claimed a deal was “within touching distance”.
Boss Tim Shoveller urged the union to “sit down with us” and revisit the deal made before Christmas so it could “make clarifications” where elements of the deal had been “misunderstood”.
The BBC understands a meeting is being arranged for Monday or Tuesday on the rail dispute.
Mr Lynch said the meeting would involve “all the actors including the rail minister”.
It’s understood the rail minister will also meet Aslef, the train drivers’ union, early next week.
Corinne Curtis, from Somerset, said she supported the right to strike and did not “begrudge” the action, but said it meant she had lost the equivalent of a month’s rent in earnings because she cannot get to work on strike days and is on a zero hours contract.
“How long it’s going on for, it leads to accumulated stress and rage. The train is my only option and that’s partly what is really frustrating, is knowing that I’m being held to ransom,” she told the BBC.
Olga King who commutes to work in London from Surrey, said train users had to deal with “high ticket prices for a very poor service”.
“The current train service is not fit for purpose and I don’t support the train strikes as in order to strike they should at least provide a decent service which they don’t,” the 35-year-old said.
But Helen West, who has commuted to Chester from Lancaster said she had been “severely disrupted by the rail strikes”, but added she had “solidarity” with the striking workers.
“I have overheard rail workers talk to each other about how exhausted they are – completing a shift and then being called in almost immediately afterwards due to staff shortages,” she said.
In other news – Investigation launched after man stabbed to death
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The man was found injured when police were called to Straker’s Road, Peckham Rye Park, at about 20:25 GMT on Friday. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Learn more