British rail strike set to begin after last talks failed

The biggest rail strike in a generation will begin on Tuesday after last-minute talks to avoid a strike failed.

“We are now entering the next phase of this campaign,” Mick Lynch, head of the RMT rail union, said on Monday afternoon.

Lynch said RMT on Monday rejected a pay offer from the train operating company, having previously rejected a proposal from infrastructure manager Network Rail over issues of pay raises, work practices and possible redundancies.

“Both sets of proposals are unacceptable and it is now confirmed that strike action will continue,” he said.

Frances O’Grady, secretary of the UK Congress of Trade Unions, added that workers across the country were supporting striking railway workers and in some cases holding their own votes for “paying justice”.

On Tuesday, 40,000 Network Rail employees at 13 train operators will strike over pay and redundancy disputes, followed by a shutdown on Thursday and Saturday.

All major UK train lines are expected to be disrupted, including the LNER, Avanti West Coast and many commuter rail lines, as well as the London Underground. It is likely to persist in the days between official strikes.

A rail executive said the industry would continue to talk to the RMT if possible in a bid to avoid a planned strike later this week.

Government braces for a summer full of discontent, unions are taking steps industrial action Represent workers from doctors, nurses and local government workers to traffic controllers and postal workers.

Criminal barristers voted to step up legal aid action over the weekend, with several days of strikes planned for each of the next four weeks.

TUC did not rule out coordinated action, O’Grady said, but added: “The point is that workers are coordinating themselves, not out of any deliberate strategy, but because millions of people are now facing low wages, insecurity and a pay package. Actual cuts. So of course workers who feel they have no choice will go to the polls.”

Ministers are seeking to limit public sector pay rises to 2%, despite the Bank of England forecasting inflation to hit 11% in October.

While the government insists it still wants a “high-wage, high-growth economy”, chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clark told the BBC on Monday that public sector workers should not expect pay rises to keep pace with inflation.

Indicating that the UK government has low expectations for rail talks and the prospect of other industrial action in the summer, Quasi KwatenThe Secretary of Commerce, this week plans to lift a legal ban on the use of temporary workers to replace striking workers.

Kwarteng will repeal the 1973 ban by approving so-called secondary legislation – laws that ministers can approve through other parliamentary bills that grant them the power.

While rail groups welcome plans to repeal the 1973 law – an unfulfilled 2015 Conservative manifesto promise – the move will likely only ease pressure on shortages in low-skilled jobs such as cleaners and station workers. It will take effect in mid-July.

Business groups and unions say the plan is unrealistic and its safety is questioned.

“Our goal should be to resolve the conflict, not prolong it,” said Neil Carbury, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employers Federation, a trade body.

In a tight labor market, casual workers won’t accept jobs that force them to cross picket lines, he said, and agencies want the ban to remain in place to avoid pressure from clients to put employees in “hostile and potentially dangerous situations.”

The RMT has warned that the strike – the largest in more than 30 years – will continue until its pay demands are met. Union members voted in May for a six-month strike mandate, so more strikes are likely in the summer and fall.

Shadow transport minister Louise Haigh told BBC Radio 4 today The government has failed to set a plan for employers to negotiate mandates.

“Not only are they boycotting the talks, they’re actually blocking them. . . they have to step in.”

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