- United Kingdom is currently facing a rail strike, termed to be the worst in 30 years.
- Only about 20% of passenger trains are scheduled to run.
- Only one in five trains will run on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
UK rail strike: United Kingdom is currently facing a rail strike, termed to be the worst in 30 years. The strike has left passengers stranded, as only one in five trains are functioning on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Besides, tens of thousands of railway workers walked off the job in Britain today, bringing the train network to a crawl. Amid the chaos, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a “sensible compromise” on the pay demands by workers’ unions.
“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,” said Johnson, ahead of a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street. “Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise for the good of the British people and the rail workforce,” he said.
Why is UK facing a rail strike?
The dispute centers on pay, working conditions and job security as Britain’s railways struggle to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Major stations were largely deserted on Tuesday morning, with only about 20% of passenger trains scheduled to run. Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said the government is not the “constraining factor in negotiations”, amid reports that the unions had rejected a 3 per cent pay rise offer.
In a separate row involving London’s Tube network, London Underground network workers are also on strike on Tuesday over job cuts and change to their pensions. “We have a responsibility to tackle inflation and stop it becoming entrenched,” Downing Street said in a statement.
Unions refuse rail firms’ offer of a 3% raise
Last-minute talks on Monday failed to make a breakthrough. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union says it will not accept rail firms’ offer of a 3% raise, which is far below the rate of inflation, currently running at 9%.
The union accuses the Conservative government of refusing to give rail firms enough flexibility to offer a substantial pay increase. The government says it is not involved in the talks, but has warned that big raises will spark a wage-price spiral driving inflation even higher.
(With AP, PTI Inputs)