The union boss warns that rail strikes could last “a very long time”.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock (10314830e) Crowds build up on SW rail trains due to reduced service due to RMT workers' strike and are heaviest at the end of the suburban commuter concourse. Passengers await messages from their trains in the concourse at Waterloo Station, London. Train Strike, Waterloo, London, UK - 18 June 2019

Huge disruption looms after RMT union members overwhelmingly backed the action (Image: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock)

A union leader has warned he sees “no way out” of the strikes, which would spark a “summer of discontent”.

RMT members at Network Rail and 15 other rail operators have agreed to stage mass labor disputes in the coming weeks.

After two years of wage freezes, union leaders want pay rises for staff in line with retail price index inflation – currently at 11.1%.

On average, private sector workers receive wage increases of 3.2% and public sector workers 2.4%.

The strikes could result in up to four-fifths of rail service being canceled – reducing available transport to about one-fifth of the normal weekday timetable.

All sides in the bitter dispute have stressed the negative impact this measure could have on the country, but RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said he doesn’t see the end to the dispute just yet.

He told Sky News: “I don’t see a way out of the strikes at the moment unless there is a breakthrough and the government isn’t telling these companies – which they are doing – to change their line, rather than tighten their line, it is very, very likely that there will be strikes, and very soon.

“Right now there is no sign of anyone retreating to their side of the table.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, at RMT headquarters in Euston, central London, after rail workers voted overwhelmingly to go on strike amid a bitter dispute over jobs, wages and working conditions and massive disruption of the network threatened in the coming weeks. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch doesn’t expect the government to stop the strikes (Image: PA)

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Mr Lynch could not say what level of disruption the action could cause, but said it “could go on for a very, very long time”.

“We want to make the strike action as effective as possible,” he added.

It has not yet been announced when the strike will take place, but it was predicted for mid-June.

Ministers are reportedly most concerned about the impact of the strike on the movement of goods.

If deliveries don’t reach their destination, it could mean food shortages in supermarkets and even power outages.

This is mainly due to the fact that signalers are also planning to take part in the campaign, which makes driving on the tracks extremely difficult.

Mr Lynch previously told ITV members of the union have “the right to take industrial action”.

He said: “Our members are ordinary men and women across the country.

“They want to secure their jobs. It’s also about redundancies for operational reasons, the lowering of safety standards on our railway and the tearing up of our general terms and conditions.’

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Both Network Rail and the Department of Transportation (DoT) have accused the RMT of being “hasty” and using industrial action as a “first resort rather than a last resort”.

This was in response to the RMT’s decision to announce its strike action before any official negotiations took place.

A DoT spokesman said: “Taxpayers across the country have contributed £16billion to keep our railways running during the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker loses their job.

“The railroad is still on life support, ridership is down 25% and anything that drives more of them away risks destroying services and jobs. For millions of people, train travel is now a choice, not a necessity. Strikes discourage our customers from choosing rail and they may never return.

‘We urge the RMT to reconsider and accept the invitation to industry talks so that we can find a solution.’

Which rail companies could be affected by the RMT strike?

RMT members from 14 organizations have voted to take part in a massive strike over wages, jobs and working conditions this summer.

If it continues, it is expected to be the largest strike of its kind in modern history and could leave supermarket shelves empty.

Network Rail employees who are responsible for signaling take part, as well as employees from these 13 different franchise operators:

  • Chiltern Railway
  • intercity trains
  • Greater Anglia
  • LNER
  • East Midlands Railway
  • c2c
  • Great Western Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • southeast railway
  • Südwestbahn
  • GTR (including Gatwick Express)*
  • Transpennine Express
  • Avanti West Coast
  • West Midlands trains

*Voted against strike but in favor of more limited industrial action.

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Justin Scacco

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