Travel chaos after government was accused of ‘destroying’ negations

Railway employees are again in dispute over wages and working conditions (Images: LNP)

Trains have come to a standstill again as strikes continue in the UK today.

Thousands of railway workers are staging strikes after talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and working conditions.

People have been advised not to travel by train unless it is “absolutely necessary”.

Those traveling to Glastonbury Festival are among those affected – with strikes to wipe out more than half of Somerset-bound trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators are taking industrial action, disrupting services across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been accused of “destroying” the negotiations, leading to a second day of strikes.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw its letter threatening 2,900 of our members with dismissal.

“Until the government unleashes Network Rail and the railway companies, it will not be possible to agree a negotiated solution.

“We will continue our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated solution that offers job security and a pay rise for our members that addresses the escalating cost of living crisis.”

? Licensed to London News Pictures. 06/23/2022. London, United Kingdom. Paddington station in west London was empty on the second day of the national railways strikes. Railway lines across the UK are closed for three days as thousands of railway workers leave home on June 21, 23 and 25 over a wage dispute. Credit: Ben Cawthra/LNP

Paddington Station empty on the second day of the national rail strikes (Image: Ben Cawthra/LNP)

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch on a picket line outside Euston station in London as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union begin their nationwide strike alongside London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and working conditions. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch claims Grant Shapps ‘destroyed’ negotiations (Image: PA)

Mr Shapps hit back, saying the RMT claim was a “lie”.

Trains today will be mostly limited to main lines, with about half the network closed.

Before the strike, the government announced plans to amend the law to allow companies to provide agency workers to fill gaps during industrial action.

Ministers pointed out that current trade union laws prevent employment agencies from providing agency workers to cover strikers, as this could have “disproportionate effects”.

The legislation will remove “onerous” legal restrictions, the government says.

They say it will give companies hit by strikes the freedom to use the services of employment agencies, which can provide short-term qualified temporary workers.

Network Rail welcomed the move, but Labor and unions condemned it as a “recipe for disaster”.

Empty platforms are seen at King's Cross St Pancras station in London as train services are disrupted after the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union joined with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and continued becomes conditions. Picture date: Wednesday June 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire

Empty platforms are seen in King’s Cross amid labor disputes (Image: PA)

Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arrives at Downing Street on June 21, 2022 in London, Britain. REUTERS/John Sibley

Grant Shapps says union comments about ‘broken’ negotiations are a ‘lie’ (Image: Reuters)

Meanwhile, members of Greater Anglia drivers’ union Aslef are set to strike on Thursday in a separate wage dispute.

The company, also affected by the RMT strike, advised passengers to only travel if necessary.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) announced that its members had accepted a 7.1% salary offer at Merseyrail.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the RMT has once again opted to exit negotiations without agreeing to a deal. We remain available for conversations – day and night – and will do everything possible to avoid further disruption to our passengers.

“As a result of this unnecessary and premature strike, rail services will be similar to Tuesday – starting later in the morning and ending much earlier in the evening (around 6.30pm).

“We ask passengers to inquire before traveling, to be aware of when the last available train will depart and to only travel by train if necessary.”

Only about one in five trains will run today, mostly on main lines during the day.

Across the UK, passengers have been advised to only travel by train if absolutely necessary and to check the time of the first and last train.

A spokesman for Rail Delivery Group: “With passenger numbers still at only 80% of pre-pandemic levels, the industry remains committed to offering fair wages while not taking more than its fair share from taxpayers.

“The only way we can achieve this is by making improvements – such as offering better services on a Sunday – that reflect the changing needs of passengers, so we can win more back.”

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Justin Scacco

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