Some workers across the country are looking forward to napping, sleeping in and watching the tennis today as crippling rail strikes mean scores of employees will be allowed to work from home (WFH).
Some users heaped praise on the militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) last night for plunging the country into paralysis in pursuit of more pay – telling them: ‘Strike on brothers!’, if it meant they would not have to get up earlier to get into the office.
It comes as thousands of members of RMT at Network Rail and 13 train operators are set to walk out today, Thursday and Saturday – in what hospitality chiefs believe will cost the tourism, leisure and theatre industries some £1billion in lost earnings.
Services across the UK will be affected all week, with just one in five trains running on strike days, primarily on main lines and only for around 11 hours.
Talks between RMT and Network Rail were held into Monday afternoon, but both sides remained deadlocked over a deal.
The RMT say the pay proposals were a ‘2 per cent down payment with the possibility of 1 per cent more’.
It added that the train operators have now made an offer and there is no further offer from Network Rail following one rejected last Friday. London Underground workers from the RMT and Unite unions are also going on strike today.
And many workers are encouraging the action, with one tweeting that they had in effect received a ‘massive pay rise’ due to their savings on travel costs, while others boasted about enjoying ‘sleeping in.’
One brazenly admitted: ‘Tomorrow’s tube strike = WFH = watching Eastbourne.’
Another said they were looking forward to being able to ‘take it easy’.
Passengers at London Waterloo station wait for their trains to arrive on Monday ahead of RMT union walkouts this week
Workers across the country are looking forward to napping, sleeping in and watching the tennis tomorrow as crippling rail strikes mean scores of employees will be allowed to work from home (WFH).
Millions of people not lucky enough to WFH will be forced to battle into work on foot, bike or in rammed buses due to the three days of strikes.
The strike has been designed so there will also be severe disruption for on non-strike days too, causing six days of chaos.
But there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week – and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.
One tweeted: ‘Get to work from home this week. Keep up the good non-work union chaps’.
Another said: ‘A whole wfh week, perhaps the strikes aren’t so bad’.
One critic suggested that the union members walking out over pay this week will be doing so to top up their tans while another shared a picture of the blue skies over Britain and said: ‘Thanks to you brave lads I get to WFH in the sun’.
There are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week – and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.
Some shared pictures of their drinks and breakfasts.
It came after RMT boss Mick Lynch warned yesterday that the UK could see a series of rail strikes over the next couple of months if a deal is not reached.
He said: ‘Our campaign will run as long as it needs to run until we get a settlement acceptable to our people. Whenever we get an offer that is tenable we will put that to our members in a referendum.’
Asked if the strikes could last for months if a deal is not reached Mr Lynch replied: ‘I think it will, yes.’
However, Downing Street argued that the strikes will not resolve the issues faced on the railways.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘This is deeply disappointing, that these disruptive, these self-defeating strikes will take place this week. Striking does nothing to address the long-standing issues that we need to sort to make sure our railway, that the public use and treasure, is fit for the long term.’
Some social media users were equally critical last night.
The scale of strikes has not been seen for decades and are already set to last for months
Some social media users were critical of the strikes last night, accusing them of ‘causing misery to the vulnerable’
One branded the RMT ‘awful’ and called for the automation of trains, while another said: ‘The only people they are going to effect are the vulnerable and their care staff travelling to work.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday insisted it ‘takes two to tango’ as he urged union bosses to return to the negotiating table and stop the ‘callous’ strikes.
He branded the action ‘callous’ and admitted his daughter, who is due to take an exam, will be among those affected.
The Transport Secretary took aim at the RMT during a statement to the House of Commons, but he also came under fresh pressure to explain why the Government was not directly involved in Monday’s talks.
Mr Shapps argued the Government is ‘not the employer’ and it is for the train operating companies, Network Rail and the unions to come to an agreement.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh argued that the strikes going ahead will represent a ‘catastrophic failure of leadership’.
She said: ‘Ministers owe it to all those impacted by this serious disruption to get around the table for last ditch talks, to sort it out and avert this disruption.’
‘Not only has he been boycotting the talks, he’s tied the hands of those at the table. He and his department failed to give the train operating companies, a party to these talks, any mandate to negotiate whatsoever.
‘These talks are a sham because ministers have set them up to fail.’
Mr Shapps replied: ‘That was a lot of words to avoid using… the four words “I condemn the strikes”.’
He added: ‘The unions wrongly told their workers that there would be no pay rise: there will be a pay rise, because the pay freeze is coming to an end, so that was untrue.’
The Transport Secretary also said RMT general-secretary Mick Lynch had made clear he had ‘walked out’ of the talks with employers, adding: ‘We are ready to speak, we want to see this settled, pay offers have been put down, the modernisation is required in return, it takes two to tango.’
Mr Lynch earlier said: ‘The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead. It is clear that the Tory Government, after slashing £4billion of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.
‘The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years. At the behest of the Government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.’
Train cancellations started early on Monday afternoon ahead of the worst shutdown of Britain’s railways for 30 years from today that will cause another effective lockdown for the UK’s already stuttering economy amid union barons’ threat to hold strikes up until Christmas.
It comes after they vowed to bring the country to a standstill in a ‘summer of discontent’ not seen since the 1926 General Strike with railway and Tube workers set to be bolstered by 155,000 comrades at airports, Royal Mail and BT.
More than 1million council workers and teachers could strike in the Autumn.
Who else is set to join the summer strike contagion?
Strikes could spread across the economy in the coming months. These are the areas affected – and those which could be hit – and the unions behind the ballots.
Strikes by the RMT across three days this week will close half of the country’s rail network and reduce service to a fifth of normal levels.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) is also balloting thousands of staff at Network Rail and several train companies, with the possibility of strikes as soon as July.
The train drivers’ union Aslef is set to strike at Greater Anglia and the Croydon Tramlink in the coming weeks.
Unite is also balloting about 500 British Airways check-in staff at Heathrow over a refusal to reverse a 10 per cent pandemic pay cut. If workers vote in favour, strikes are likely in July – potentially ruining some summer holidays.
Teachers’ union NAS/UWT will ballot members over action unless the Government backs demands for a 12 per cent pay rise. A pay award for 2022/23 is due in November.
The National Education Union has said it will ballot its 460,000 members if a pay rise in line with inflation is not offered by the Government.
Unison, which represents NHS staff, has said strikes are possible unless the annual pay offer for them is not close to the rate of inflation. The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, has also said it will prepare for a ballot unless junior doctors are given a 22 per cent ‘restorative’ pay rise.
The Royal College of Nursing has also demanded a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation.
The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil service workers, will hold a ballot in September over pay, pensions and redundancies.
The Unison, GMB and Unite unions have said local government staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should receive a pay increase of at least £2,000 each. Workers include rubbish collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers.
Unite said it will support ‘any action’ by workers to achieve a pay rise.
Barristers have voted to go on strike in a row over legal aid funding.
The Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said several days of court walkouts will begin from next week.
The promised industrial action, announced on Monday following a ballot of members, comes at a time of significant backlogs across the court system.
They are the latest profession to go on strike, ahead of planned action by rail workers later this week, and reports of unrest among teaching staff and NHS employees.
The Communication Workers Union will ballot Royal Mail workers in a dispute over a pay rise offer of 2 per cent.
The union has also sent ballot papers to BT workers including engineers, contact centre staff and retail employees over pay. It could result in the first strike at the company since it was privatised in the mid-1980s.
For some commuters hit by rising fuel costs and rail strikes, it is the glimmer of a silver lining.
This month traffic wardens will start a seven-day strike in protest at pay cuts and ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.
The walkout in Wiltshire means penalty charge notices will not be issued and charges in council car parks will not be enforced, costing £30,000 in revenue.
The action by the GMB from June 30 to July 6 follows two days of strikes in the county in May.
The union is opposing a pay cut of 10 per cent, or £2,000 a year, for traffic wardens, and said members were ‘at the end of their tether’.
Wiltshire Council is seeking to save £800,000 annually by ending contractual unsocial hours payments for almost 350 staff, including social workers and care workers.
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