Railway strikes: Boris Johnson condemns unions and calls for "reasonable compromise" when travel chaos looms

Railway strikes: Boris Johnson condemns unions and calls for “reasonable compromise” when travel chaos looms

Boris Johnson will condemn the unions for what is expected to be the biggest train strike in three decades.

Approximately 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Network Rail and 13 train operators will go out for the whole of Tuesday, as well as Thursday and Saturday in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Only every fifth train will run during strike days, mainly on the main lines, and then only for about 11 hours.

Network Rail has warned of the action six-day break due to the effect on services between days.

Ahead of a government meeting on Tuesday, the prime minister will claim that the unions “hurt the very people they claim to help” and will demand a “sensible compromise”.

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There will also be a strike on the London Underground on Tuesday by union members of the RMT and Unite, in a separate line that will cause major disruption to the Tube.

Calls to ward off railway strike was retained until Monday afternoon, but remained unresolved – with both sides blaming each other for the lack of a breakthrough.

The RMT union demands a wage increase of 7%, which is lower than inflation but higher than what employers offer.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the dispute could drag on for months, adding: “It is clear that the Tory government, after reducing £ 4 billion in funding from the National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a solution to this dispute.

“The railway companies have now proposed wage rates that are massively below the relevant inflation rate, which comes on top of the wage freezes of recent years.

“On behalf of the government, companies are also trying to implement thousands of cuts and have failed to provide any guarantee against mandatory redundancies.”

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Railway strikes to cause “misery”

The Prime Minister is expected to accuse unions of “driving away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of railway workers” while striking at companies across the country.

He will say: “Excessive wage demands will also make it incredibly difficult to put an end to the current challenges facing families around the world with rising living costs.

“Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise for the benefit of the British people and the railway workers.”

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Downing Street said ministers at Tuesday’s meeting would discuss the railway strikes and also the tough economic climate facing the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Prime Minister are expected to argue that wage discipline and restraint are important in dealing with downward inflationary pressures.

“We have a responsibility to address inflation and prevent it from becoming entrenched,” he said.

“To do this, we need to make sure that wage settlements are sensible and not flawed to match inflation, and as a result drive up prices as the cost of goods and services increases to include wage increases.”

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Reaction to railway strikes

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Johnson said: “It is right that we reward our hard-working public sector employees with a pay rise, but this must be proportionate and balanced.

“Sustained higher inflation levels would have a much greater impact on people’s wage packages in the long run, destroying savings and prolonging the difficulties we face longer.”

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