Strikes paralyze British railways, unions warn of more to come

LONDON: Strikes brought Britain’s rail network to a standstill for the second time this week on Thursday (June 23) as union bosses, train operating companies and the government clashed over demands that workers’ pay rises be keep pace with rising inflation.

A rise in the cost of food and fuel is stretching the budgets of many households, leading unions to demand higher wage increases for their members. The government has urged wage moderation to avoid an inflationary spiral.

Britain’s rail network came close to grinding to a halt when 40,000 workers went on strike, repeating similar action on Tuesday, with rail bosses advising passengers not to use trains unless absolutely necessary this week as only one in five services was running.

Union bosses have warned of more labor action unless an agreement can be reached to improve wages and avoid layoffs.

“We will continue to talk to companies about everything that has been put on the table and review it and see if and when there needs to be a new phase of industry action,” Mick Lynch, Rail General Secretary. , Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), told the BBC.

“But if we don’t get a deal, it’s very likely there will be.”

Although talks continue, a third day of strikes is planned for Saturday. Other industries are also moving into industrial action in what unions say could be a “summer of unrest”.

The government has criticized the strikes, calling them counterproductive and more damaging to low-income people who rely on public transport and cannot work from home.

“I think people should come to the table and figure it out,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said from Rwanda, where he was attending a Commonwealth meeting. “I want us to work together with the railway staff for a better future for the railway, and I think strikes are a terrible idea.”

Later on Thursday, ministers will set out planned changes to a law that would make it easier for companies to use temporary staff, in a move designed to minimize the impact of the strike.

“Once again, unions are extorting money from the country by paralyzing crucial public services and businesses. The situation we find ourselves in is not sustainable,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

“Repealing these 1970s-era restrictions will give businesses the freedom to quickly access fully qualified staff, while also allowing people to get on with their lives uninterrupted to help keep the economy going.” “.

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