Rail strikes might happen at Commonwealth games says expert
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Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), said negotiations over pay, jobs and conditions were the “toughest” the union had ever been involved in. RMT members have staged three strikes over the row which crippled services. No new strikes have been set and talks have been continuing between the union, Network Rail, and the train operators.
But Robert Nisbet, former rail industry spokesman, believes the next set of strikes could come in as little as two weeks from July 28 to August 8.
Speaking to Talk TV, Mr Nisbet said: “What we are potentially looking at and I don’t think this has really been discussed is what they are likely to target.
“The industry most fears some kind of action at the end of July/beginning of August which would be around the Commonwealth games.
“Clearly the railway industry and the unions want to have the greatest impact possible so why not pick an event that is seen by hundreds and millions of people around the world.
“As well in the middle of when many people are deciding to staycation instead of travel abroad because of the airport crisis.”
He added: “They want to have the leverage to get what they want which is more money and talks on preventing the modernisation of the railways that they don’t approve of.”
It comes as Mr Lynch told the RMT’s annual meeting in Birmingham: “They are trying to cut thousands of jobs and they have no scruples in cutting back on safety regimes in order to do so.
“They are seeking to rip up working practices and conditions, agreements that protect our members, and in doing so they will drive up unsocial hours, work fatigue, and occupational ill-health.
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“And they are seeking to make our members poor with below-inflation pay offers which do not take into account the cost-of-living crisis.
“Since that strike action, which was fantastic, they have not diluted their stance. At Network Rail they are ramping up their demands.
“We went to the train operators, and they put on the table that virtually every rail worker would be re-contracted on a new contract of employment and a new set of terms and conditions.
“And they are going to bring back the driver only operated disputes in every single train operating company. They have told me that face to face. They said it was their mandate from the Department for Transport.
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“So, this is as serious as it gets. It is the fight of our lifetime and of our generation.”
The RMT general secretary criticised those who blame workers for the cost-of-living crisis in Britain, arguing that wage demands from trade unions were not the cause of inflation.
He said: “It is a myth put round by the establishment that workers’ wages are the cause of inflation. It is the profit making and protecting the wealth of the super-rich that is responsible for inflation.
“We have not got a wage price spiral – wages are lagging a long way behind prices and it is the job of the trade unions to ensure wages catch up.”
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