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Second day of action planned to disrupt UK rail network

Rail strikes: Second day of action set to disrupt UK rail network – live |  Railway strikes

Rachel Room

Members of Network Rail’s Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and 13 train operators stage their second strike of the week today after no agreement on wages and conditions was reached in tense talks earlier in the week.

Only around one in five trains will run and mostly on main lines during the day, making travel onerous for many passengers across the UK. Network Rail said today’s train services will ‘look a lot like they did on Tuesday’, starting later in the morning and ending early in the evening at around 6.30pm. Passengers were asked to “travel by train only if necessary”.

Members of the Aslef drivers’ union on Greater Anglia trains will strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over wages. The company, also affected by the RMT strike, advised passengers to travel only when necessary.

Meanwhile, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has announced that its Merseyrail members have accepted a pay offer of 7.1%.

I will update you today on all the key strike events in the UK. Please contact us at rachel.hall@theguardian.com if you spotted anything we missed.

Union leaders say Merseyrail deal shows ministers are blocking progress in national dispute

Rail strikes: Second day of action set to disrupt UK rail network – live |  Railway strikes

Matthew Tisserand

Guardian journalist Matthew Weaver tells the full story of the Merseyrail staff pay deal:

Railway union leaders hailed 7.1% pay deal for Merseyrail staffwhich was struck without the participation of the government, because proof that it is the ministers who are blocking an agreement in the national dispute.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has announced that its Merseyrail members have accepted the 7.1% pay offer. The RMT, which was also involved in the Merseyrail negotiations, said it planned to take the offer to its members.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the deal was an example of what can be achieved when ministers are not involved.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: ‘The importance of this is that the DFT (Department for Transport) and the Treasury are not pulling the strings in this negotiation.

He added: “This is also the situation in other companies such as Transport for Wales, which is beyond the control of DFTs and Scotrail where we are going to get compensation offers far in excess of what [Transport Secretary] Grant Shapps will allow this to happen.

“Where Grant Shapps has no influence on this railway, we are getting deals and offers that are likely to be more progressive than what we are getting from Westminster.”

Lynch added: “We need a guarantee of no mandatory layoffs and when we get that we can move positively to the other agenda items which include
changes in work practices and the adoption of new technologies.

“It is the government in the form of Grant Shapps and the Treasury that is preventing these ideas from coming forward. If we were dealing with the companies of their own free will…I think we would have reached an agreement on these issues long enough.

Speaking to Today on BBC Radio 4, Eddie Dempsey, Deputy General Secretary of the RMT, said: ‘Wherever we are dealing with anyone not directly controlled by the DFT, we are making progress: London Underground 8.5%; Docklands Light Railway, we have an anti-inflation agreement; Crossrail, same thing, Transport for Wales, we’re negotiating something there now. Railway Mercy 7.1%.”

But Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, suggested it would be too costly to offer a 7.1% pay rise to settle the national dispute.

Speaking to the Today program ahead of further talks today, Shoveller said: “We currently have a bid that totals 3% on the table and we want to improve that. But it depends on affordability.

“The difference between the 3% on the table now and the 7.1% is £65m every year just for the bands that are on strike today.”

PA reports that Birkenhead Labor MP Mick Whitley joined RMT members on a picket line outside Liverpool Lime Street station.

He said:

I think all Labor MPs should get out. Let’s be clear, Labor was born out of the trade union movement and they are our political voice in parliament, so every Labor MP should be absent.

He said a pay deal with Merseyrail bolstered the argument that the government was “fabricating the dispute”.

He added:

We don’t want to mess with people’s travel plans, but if you’re pushed into a corner, you need to do something about it.

PA said only four trains were due to depart from the usually busy Liverpool Lime Street terminal between 8.30am and 10.00am, two to London Euston and two to Alderley Edge in Cheshire, via Manchester.

Here are some members of the rail, maritime and transport union pictured on strike outside Newcastle station this morning.

Rail strikes: Second day of action set to disrupt UK rail network – live |  Railway strikes
RMT members in Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, told BBC Breakfast railway workers have no guarantee that the reforms will not lead to forced layoffs because the picture is too uncertain.

He has answered:

What we don’t understand until we start the reform process and agree on key principles is how far reform can go.

If we offer people voluntary departure, how many people will accept this voluntary departure? How many people can we retrain and assign to other jobs?

We believe that once we complete the reform, we can hopefully welcome anyone who wants to stay with the organization.

So we just need to go through the processes and see how many people are left, and hopefully no one needs to be compulsorily fired.

Senior network planner Frank Bird, speaking from National Highways’ West Midlands regional operations centre, told PA he was delighted drivers paid attention to traffic signs on motorway gantries signaling disruptions for more than a week, noting that the shift to working from home during the pandemic most likely helped.

He said:

I would like to thank people for following our advice.

At present, the look and feel of the network indicates that traffic is down.

If you go in and out of downtowns and town centers they get a bit busier. People have trouble finding (and) getting around, finding parking spaces.

He added:

On Tuesday, the entire network was 1% quieter – on some parts of the network even more than that.

So people heeded the advice (and) changed their travel plans for the week.

If you had asked me this question a few years ago – what would the impact be – I would have said it would have been very impactful.

But two years later (from the Covid pandemic) we’ve learned to work in different ways, people are working from home, so it’s a very different picture. People can continue to work even though the rail conflict is ongoing.

Bird also said Thursday night’s peak traffic was “the heaviest” of the week, but noted he was “cautiously optimistic” because if people don’t get out in the morning, they won’t make the trip from the afternoon.

This morning’s Today program spoke to some key players involved in the negotiations between the RMT and National Rail to get their views on why talks have once again broken down.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail Regional Managing Director and Chief Negotiator, said:

We currently have an offer that totals 3% on the table and we want to improve it. It depends on affordability. The difference between 3% on the table now and the 7.1% deal is £65million each year.

Eddy Dempsey, Deputy General Secretary of the RMT, said:

What we can’t understand is how people in the industry can go to the media and say we don’t intend to fire people but send us a letter initiating the legal consultation process on dismissal and refuse to give us a guaranteed non-binding dismissal, which is the first demand we have in this dispute.

Good Morning Britain’s Nitya Gracianna Rajan tweeted that Newport’s main transport hub saw an increase in passengers on Tuesday compared to the previous week, and is put more double decker buses along regional suburban routes.

#RailStrikes Day 2: The biggest transport hub in Newport, Wales saw an increase in passenger numbers on Tuesday compared to last week. More double decker buses have been provided along regional commuter routes in anticipation of peak hour demand this morning. https://t.co/LJithbjldj

— Nitya Gracianna Rajan (@NityaGRajan) June 23, 2022

Second day of action planned to disrupt UK rail network

Rail strikes: Second day of action set to disrupt UK rail network – live |  Railway strikes

Rachel Room

Members of Network Rail’s Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and 13 train operators stage their second strike of the week today after no agreement on wages and conditions was reached in tense talks earlier in the week.

Only around one in five trains will run and mostly on main lines during the day, making travel onerous for many passengers across the UK. Network Rail said today’s train services will ‘look a lot like they did on Tuesday’, starting later in the morning and ending early in the evening at around 6.30pm. Passengers were asked to “travel by train only if necessary”.

Members of the Aslef drivers’ union on Greater Anglia trains will strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over wages. The company, also affected by the RMT strike, advised passengers to travel only when necessary.

Meanwhile, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has announced that its Merseyrail members have accepted a pay offer of 7.1%.

I will update you today on all the key strike events in the UK. Please contact us at rachel.hall@theguardian.com if you spotted anything we missed.

Rail strikes: Second day of action set to disrupt UK rail network – live |  Railway strikes

Gwyn Topham

The Guardian’s Gwyn Topham has the full report on the progress of the talks last night, the breakdown of which led to the second day of strikes today.

The RMT chief has slammed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for ‘wrecking negotiations’ in the dispute over wages, working conditions and proposing ‘modernisation’ plans to cut costs post-pandemic, writes- he.

Shapps said RMT’s claim was “a complete lie”, while Network Rail claimed the union had pulled out of the talks.



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