Train drivers stop work over pay in England, millions hit - GulfToday

Train drivers stop work over pay in England, millions hit


Southeastern trains in sidings at Ashford International station in Kent, England, on Friday. AP

Railway commuters across England faced travel misery on Friday as train drivers staged their second stoppage over pay this week, the latest in a wave of UK industrial action.

Millions of people were forced to make alternative travel plans or work from home as the majority of train companies on the country’s fragmented network said they were running no services.

Central London railway stations such as Euston were nearly deserted, with rail hubs elsewhere in England also emptied. Following a strike on Wednesday, members of ASLEF and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out again in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Wednesday was the biggest single day of UK industrial action in more than a decade, as half a million workers, including teachers and Border Force staff, also staged strikes.

Public-sector staff across the UK economy are at loggerheads with the government as they demand big pay rises to cope with decades-high inflation — currently running at nearly 11 per cent — and a resulting cost-of-living crisis.



Simon Weller, of the ASLEF union representing train drivers, said the months-old rail dispute was going “backwards” due to a lack of progress in ongoing talks and shortcomings in the latest pay offer. “We are being asked to give up collective bargaining and effectively agree to a no-strike deal,” he added. “Obviously it was going to be rejected — it was designed to fail.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted the UK, which is predicted to enter recession this year, cannot afford double-digit salary increases, as he vows to halve inflation this year. “We’ve got to stick to the path,” he told broadcaster TalkTV, in an interview to mark the end of his first 100 days in power.

Asked for his message to the public, Sunak said: “It’s have hope. Have hope because I can make it better, and I will make it better.”


Nurses in Wales and some ambulance workers have called off strikes planned for next week as they review pay offers from the Welsh government, their unions said, even as much larger strikes involving health staff in England are due to go ahead.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it would put a new pay offer from the devolved Welsh government of an additional 3% to its members for a vote within days. It had previously said the government had awarded a pay rise equal to a 4% increase.

Meanwhile, the GMB trade union said it had suspended its ambulance worker strike in order to hold further talks with the Welsh government after it was offered a deal involving a one-off payment for 2022/23, in addition to an existing 4.5% pay rise.


Nurses in Scotland said last month they would hold off announcing strike action in order to hold further talks on pay with the government there.

Still, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) faces its largest ever strike by health workers on Monday involving tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance staff in England.

“If the other governments can negotiate and find more money for this year, the prime minister can do the same,” RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said in a statement.

“If the prime minister decides to leave England’s nurses as the lowest paid in the UK, he must expect this strike to continue. He can still turn things around before Monday — start talking seriously and the strikes are off.” The Unite union said a planned strike by its ambulance workers in Wales was still scheduled to go ahead on Monday.


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