LONDON – Millions of people in the UK faced disruption on Thursday as railway staff staged events their second national strike this week.
The 24-hour strike by 40,000 cleaners, signallers, maintenance workers and station workers has halted about four-fifths of passenger service across the country. A third strike is planned for Saturday as part of Britain’s biggest and most disruptive rail strike in 30 years.
Train stations were largely deserted on Thursday. The freeways were also less busy than expected, and many people appeared to be heeding the advice to avoid travel. Internet provider Virgin Media O2 said its data suggests “millions more people” than usual are working from home.
The strike is causing headaches for those unable to work from home, as well as for patients with doctor appointments, students heading for year-end exams and music lovers heading to the Glastonbury Festival, which lasts until Sunday one Farm in South West England.
The dispute revolves around pay, working conditions and job security as Britain’s rail companies aim to cut costs and staff after two years of being kept afloat by emergency government aid.
The strike pits the Rail, Shipping and Transport Union against 13 privately owned railroads and the state-owned National Rail. Talks between union representatives and employers ended in deadlock on Wednesday. The union accused the British Conservative government of breaking off negotiations.
The union says the government is preventing employers from improving the 3% pay rise previously on the table. UK inflation hit 9.1% in Mayas Russia’s war in Ukraine cuts supplies of energy and basic necessities while post-pandemic consumer demand surges.
“Every time we get close, there’s some kind of maneuvering somewhere outside the room with people we’re not talking to that affects what’s going on in the room,” said Eddie Dempsey, the union’s assistant general secretary.
The government denies taking part in negotiations, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson blames the union for the strike. The government also warned that large pay rises would trigger a wage-price spiral that would push inflation even higher.
All sides are eyeing public frustration, with polls suggesting opinion is roughly evenly split between supporting and opposing the strikes.
Unions have told the country to brace for more as workers face the worst cost-of-living pressures in more than a generation. Lawyers are planning a strike from next week and unions representing teachers and postal workers plan to consult their members on possible action.
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https://www.local10.com/business/2022/06/23/trains-canceled-in-uk-as-unions-stage-2nd-24-hour-walkout/ Trains canceled in UK as unions stage second 24-hour strike