Union barons will force towns and cities into ‘lockdown’ and cost hospitality firms £1 billion this week, business leaders warned last night.
Britain’s railways will come to a grinding halt today after last-ditch talks failed to avert the biggest strikes for 30 years.
The militant RMT union was accused of ‘punishing millions of innocent people’ by pressing ahead with the walkouts, despite rail bosses offering workers a pay rise of at least 3 per cent – the same given last year to NHS staff who battled the Covid-19 crisis.
The rail industry will also take a £150 million hit at a time when pre-pandemic passenger numbers are yet to return.
The walkouts will hinder millions trying to get to work, stop patients attending vital health appointments and inflict undue stress on students sitting exams.
Boris Johnson will condemn the strikes today ahead of a Cabinet meeting. He will say: ‘The unions are harming the very people they claim to be helping.
‘By going ahead with these rail strikes, they are driving away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of rail workers, while also impacting businesses and communities across the country.
‘Too-high demands on pay will also make it incredibly difficult to bring to an end the current challenges facing families around the world with rising costs of living.’
In other developments:
- A string of Labour MPs boasted they will join striking rail workers on picket lines today, amid reports the party has banned Shadow Cabinet ministers from taking part;
- Travellers looking to avoid the strikes were warned they face congested roads, overflowing buses and a hike in taxi fares;
- The Prime Minister said public sector workers should brace themselves for a real-terms pay cut to help curb inflation;
- Barristers will go on strike from next week in a row over pay which will paralyse crown courts and delay trials for months.
Mick Lynch, boss of the militant rail union RMT, has confirmed that walkouts will go ahead today, on Thursday and Saturday
Marta Kotlarak, 40, and husband Radek, 41 with Michael, 18, and Jacob, 16. Jacob has GCSE additional maths on Tuesday and Jacob A Level maths on Thursday. Marta having to cancel business appointments on both days
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, at its headquarters in London this afternoon
Work is on hold while I take sons to exams
A mother has hit out at selfish rail workers who have forced her to cancel business meetings so she can take her sons to their exams.
Marta Kotlarek, 40, must clear her diary to take her youngest boy, Jacob, 16, on a 60-mile round trip for his additional maths GCSE today.
She must then repeat the journey from Flint to Colwyn Bay in North Wales for 18-year-old Michael, who sits his maths A-level on Thursday. The boys usually take a 20-minute train journey to their school.
Mrs Kotlarek said of the strikers: ‘They could have done this a week later which would have been less disruptive for children, but I don’t think there is a right time to shut down the country.’ The mother-of-two runs garden design company Genesis Gardens with her husband, Radek, 41, and has had to scrap meetings with clients.
She said: ‘By the time I have driven them to the exams I will have to sit and wait for them to finish.
‘It’s wiped out two days of business and added to their stress. The country is just recovering from Covid and they have decided to close it all down again.
‘My children have had to prepare for exams during the pandemic and now they are hit by this on their last week of exams.’
There had been hope of a breakthrough in the row over rail jobs and pay after sources close to the negotiations said there was ‘some movement’ from the RMT and ‘small steps of progress’ were being made.
But it was dashed after union boss Mick Lynch confirmed walkouts will go ahead today, on Thursday and Saturday.
Network Rail officially offered the RMT a 2 per cent pay rise with ‘no strings attached’ and a further 1 per cent later in the year if certain efficiency targets were met.
It is understood the rise could have been as much as 5 per cent if the union was willing to accept further modernisation of working practices, such as technology being used more to detect potential faults on the network.
Intense negotiations continued last night, with a source suggesting a deal to avert Thursday’s and Saturday’s walkouts was still possible.
They said: ‘It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.
‘They wouldn’t be coming back, especially at this 11th hour, if we weren’t getting closer, and we are getting closer – it’s just not enough on either side yet to have a good enough package to avert the strikes at this point.’
The RMT is understood to want a pay increase of at least 7.1 per cent, and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
Last night Mr Lynch did not rule out strikes going on for longer than the infamous Southern Rail dispute, which ended after 18 months in 2017, raising the prospect of similar walkouts for months.
He said: ‘It will go on until somebody offers us a deal that we can accept and we can put to our members and they vote for it in a referendum.’
He dodged the question of whether it was fair for taxpayers to stump up the extra cash to fund the union’s pay demands, adding: ‘Faced with such an aggressive agenda of cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions, the RMT has no choice but to defend our members industrially.’
Unison members and members of the public take part in a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers. Picture date: Saturday June 18, 2022
Patients: We’ll miss appointments
Hospital patients say the rail strike could force them to cancel vital appointments.
Carole Railton, 71, who is recovering from long Covid, said she will struggle to make a consultation. ‘I’ve waited five months to see a cardiologist and the appointment is on Thursday,’ she said. ‘I’m obviously feeling frustrated.’
She said it usually takes half an hour to get to Homerton Hospital in east London on the train. The bus takes longer and is not a good option because her health means she cannot stand for long. Cancer survivor Garry Thomas, 50, is ‘livid’ because the strikes threaten an urgent appointment after he spotted a new lump on his neck.
He was due to travel from his home in Wye Valley, Herefordshire, to the Royal London Hospital on Thursday but will now have to drive down the night before. Mr Thomas, treated for Hodgkin lymphoma 20 years ago, accused the unions of playing ‘party politics’.
Consultant oncologist Robert Thomas warned the strikes will ‘lead to loss of lives’ among cancer patients.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hit back, saying: ‘By carrying out this action, the RMT is punishing millions of innocent people, instead of calmly discussing the sensible and necessary reforms we need to make in order to protect our rail network.’
He added: ‘We are now on the cusp of major disruption which will cause misery for people right across the country.
‘Many people who do not get paid if they can’t get to work face losing money at a time they simply can’t afford to.
‘Children sitting exams will face the extra distraction of changing their travel plans.
‘And vulnerable people trying to attend long-awaited hospital appointments may have no choice but to cancel.’
Ministers want the railways to make around £2 billion in savings after bailing out the industry to the tune of £16 billion during the pandemic – the equivalent of £600 per household.
They also point out that the median salary for rail workers is already £44,000, well above the national average.
Business chiefs said the strikes ‘could not come at a worse time’ for firms hoping for a summer bounce following the damage caused by Covid.
Ros Morgan, chief executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance, said: ‘The rail and Tube strikes will impose another lockdown on the West End at a time when central London’s economy needs all the support it can get.’
Trade body UKHospitality warned the cost to the industry could top £1 billion this week alone as pubs, bars and restaurants are hit, along with other leisure and tourist activities such as theatres.
The gravy train: RMT accused ‘punishing millions of innocent people’ in pursuit of a massive pay rise
- £59,000 Train drivers’ average pay
- £44,000Rail workers’ average pay
- 17-20%Real-term pay rise since 2011
- £16bn What the rail industry received in emergency Covid support
- £35bnWhat ministers will spend on expanding the rail network over the next three years
- 2%Pay rise – Network Rail offer to workers, along with a further 1% later in the year
- 7.1% Pay rise the union is demanding
- 223,125 Train cancellations last year
Boss Kate Nicholls said: ‘The planned strike action couldn’t come at a worse time, and might deliver a fatal financial blow to those businesses already struggling to survive.’
The boss of the British Beer and Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said the strikes posed a ‘serious threat’ to the industry and could stop staff getting to work and customers being able to get to venues.
As Labour MPs said they would join striking workers, the unions reacted with fury at reports the party has banned its frontbenchers from picket lines.
A leaked memo from Sir Keir Starmer’s office said Shadow Cabinet members ‘should not be on picket lines’.
Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said: ‘We expect Labour MPs to defend workers, by words and by actions. To instruct Labour MPs not to be on picket lines with workers speaks volumes.
‘You don’t lead by hiding. No-one respects that. It’s time to decide whose side you are on. Workers or bad bosses?’
Around half of the rail network will be shut today, on Thursday and Saturday, with many rural areas completely cut off.
Overall, only one in five services will run as 40,000 RMT members for Network Rail and 13 train companies covering most of the country walk out.
Inter-city services, such as on the East Coast and West Coast main lines, could see service levels of up to 50 per cent.
Due to the shift patterns of critical railway staff, such as signallers, only 60 to 70 per cent of services will run on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday due to the knock-on effects from strike days.
How your trains will be hit during week of strike mayhem
AVANTI WEST COAST
- Limited service of around a quarter of normal timetable, and only between 8am and 6pm.
- A number of routes will not be served, such as to North Wales, Stoke and Edinburgh.
- Ticket sales for travel between today and Sunday suspended to ‘cut disruption and overcrowding’.
- Fewer than a third of normal services, only between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
- This will include two trains per hour from London Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Laindon, and the same frequency from Fenchurch Street to Pitsea via Rainham.
- No trains via Ockendon or Chafford Hundred.
AVANTI WEST COAST: The operator plans to run one train per hour on strike days from London Euston to each of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Preston, with a limited service onwards to Glasgow. The last trains will leave Euston mid-afternoon. There will be no Avanti West Coast services to North Wales, Shrewsbury, Blackpool and Edinburgh on strike days
All departures cancelled between Monday and Friday.
CALEDONIAN SLEEPER: All services on the overnight Caledonian Sleeper have been cancelled from today until Friday
- No trains north of Banbury or to Oxford between today and Saturday.
- Services suspended on ‘most routes’ on strike days due to ‘extremely limited availability of staff’.
CHILTERN RAILWAYS: The service will be extremely limited on the strike days, with the following pattern expected
- No services from Birmingham New Street to Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Peterborough, Cambridge or Stansted Airport across the three strike days.
- ‘Very limited service’ planned between Bristol Parkway and Plymouth, and Birmingham New Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Leeds, York and Newcastle.
- Reduced service between Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.
CROSSCOUNTRY: The network will be running a ‘significantly reduced service’ on the strike days next week as shown above
EAST MIDLANDS RAILWAY
- Services reduced between today and Sunday.
- Just one train per hour in each direction on most routes.
EAST MIDLANDS RAILWAY: The operator will run one train per hour between Nottingham and London, Sheffield and London, Corby and London, Derby and Matlock, Derby and Nottingham, Leicester and Nottingham and Nottingham and Sheffield
- No service on strike days.
- Passengers travelling to Gatwick from London can use Southern or Thameslink trains.
- Sunday service on Gatwick Express on days after the strikes, with late starts and early finishes.
In most cases, just three trains in each direction will be running on strike days.
GRAND CENTRAL: Trains will run to and from Eaglescliffe only, and to and from Wakefield only, with an amended timetable
- Very few trains on strike days, with no services between Ely and King’s Lynn.
- Amended Sunday service on days after strikes.
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY
- Number of services not running on strike days, including all in Cornwall and Devon and on the South Wales main line, Heart of Wessex line, Severn Beach line, North Cotswolds line and South Cotswolds line.
- More than half the planned trains from London to Castle Cary between tomorrow and Friday cancelled.
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY: On strike days, a limited service will operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on the green routes
- No trains on regional and branch lines on strike days.
- A ‘very limited service’ on some routes to and from London Liverpool Street.
GREATER ANGLIA: The normal route map for Greater Anglia is pictured. The network will be running a much-reduced service
Services ‘significantly affected’ this week, with a half-hourly timetable between 7.30am and 6.30pm on strike days.
On strike days, trains will only run between Doncaster and London King’s Cross.
HULL TRAINS: The operator will only be running between Doncaster and London King’s Cross on the three strike days
LONDON NORTH EASTERN RAILWAY
Around 38% of usual service levels are planned.
LONDON NORTHWESTERN RAILWAY
- Services on strike days will be ‘very limited’. This includes just two trains per hour between London Euston and Northampton, and one per hour between Birmingham New Street and Northampton.
- No trains between Euston and Crewe.
- Last train from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh at 2pm, while final service to Leeds departs at 3.05pm.
LONDON NORTHWESTERN RAILWAY: The strike will have a significant impact on travel. Normal services are shown above
‘Some disruption’ to services throughout the week.
No train services and no replacement buses on strike days.
MERSEYRAIL: There will be no Merseyrail train services on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The normal route map is shown
Passengers urged ‘not to travel’ between today and Sunday as services will be suspended ‘on most routes’ during strike days, and there will be a ‘significant impact’ on non-strike days.
NORTHERN RAIL: Only a fraction of the Northern Rail network will run on strike days. The full normal route map is pictured
- No trains north of Glasgow or Edinburgh on strike days.
- Just two trains per hour between the cities via Falkirk.
SCOTRAIL: This map shows the normal network run by ScotRail. Only five lines will be able to run on strike days
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY
- ‘Severely limited service’ between 7.15am and 6.30pm on strike days, and only on some routes.
- This includes only four trains per hour between London Waterloo and Woking, and two per hour between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY: There will be no trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter
- Most stations and routes closed on strike days, and a ‘severely reduced service’ elsewhere.
- No services to or from London Victoria or Charing Cross.
- The vast majority of its network in Kent and East Sussex closed, apart from the high-speed route to Ashford International.
SOUTHEASTERN – Limited services set to run between London, Kent and East Sussex next week on June 21, 23 and 25
- Much of the network shut down on strike days.
- Services on the Brighton Mainline to London Bridge and London
- Victoria, with additional trains from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs, Sutton and West Croydon, via Crystal Palace.
- Amended Sunday service after each strike day.
Reduced frequency in place, with later first trains and earlier last trains. No services from Stansted to Norwich and Cambridge.
- Far fewer trains than normal on strike days.
- Services split north and south, with nothing between London St Pancras and London Bridge.
- Amended Sunday service after each strike day.
- ‘Significant reduction in available services’ on strike days.
- Several stations closed, such as Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Selby.
- Significant disruption tomorrow and Friday.
TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS: The network will be operating a very limited service on the above routes on strike days this week
TRANSPORT FOR WALES
- Most lines closed on strike days.
- Today and Thursday, a reduced service between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil, with replacement buses between Radyr and Cardiff Central.
- On Saturday, limited trains between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Pontypridd, with replacement buses between Radyr and Cardiff Central.
TRANSPORT FOR WALES: Almost the entire Transport for Wales network (shown above) will be closed during the strike days
WEST MIDLANDS RAILWAY
- ‘Considerable impact on the number of trains’ on strike days.
- Also be a ‘very limited service’ tomorrow and Friday.
- On strike days, no trains on several routes to and from Birmingham New Street, such as Hereford, Shrewsbury and Walsall
WEST MIDLANDS RAILWAY: The operator says the strike will have ‘considerable impact’. Its normal route map is shown above