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Despite being fourteen months into the first national rail strikes since the 1980s, the disputes between the main rail unions and train operators have not been resolved. The strikes, which began in July and continued into August, are centered around issues of pay, jobs, and working conditions. The RMT and Aslef, the two largest rail unions, claim that their members have not had a pay increase in four years and are demanding no-strings increased wages that account for inflation. The unions are willing to negotiate reforms but require separate negotiations. They expect any changes to come with corresponding pay increases.
Train operators and government officials argue that modernization is necessary due to the decline in rail revenue caused by the Covid pandemic. They claim that funding pay increases can only come from efficiency savings. Unfortunately, passengers have been caught in the middle of these disputes. Over the past year, national rail strikes and other forms of industrial action have disrupted the travel plans of millions of train passengers. Stoppages have been frequent, causing significant disruption and making it difficult for passengers to plan their trips in advance.
Some key questions and answers regarding the industrial action include:
– Who is taking industrial action and when? The RMT union has held strikes on several occasions, with 20,000 members participating. Aslef is currently implementing overtime bans. No further strikes have been announced, but more are expected due to the lack of progress in negotiations.
– Which train operators are involved? The strikes and overtime bans are targeting rail firms in England contracted by the Department for Transport, including intercity and London commuter operators, as well as those operating in the Midlands and north of England.
– What is happening with the London Underground? The London Underground, London Overground, and Elizabeth Line are not affected by the industrial action. However, some alternative routes may be busier than usual due to disruptions on the rail services.
– Which days are being targeted? The strikes and overtime bans are aimed at leisure passengers, particularly during peak holiday times. The RMT strikes are typically scheduled on Thursdays and Saturdays, while the Aslef overtime bans occur throughout August.
– Which trains will run during the industrial action? While many trains will be canceled or altered due to the strikes and bans, some services will continue to operate with reduced hours or timetables. It is advised to check with the specific train operators for more information.
– Will airport trains be affected? Some airport trains, such as the Gatwick Express, may be suspended during the industrial action. However, alternative services are usually available. Heathrow airport is not affected by the strikes and is served by various rail options.
– Will Eurostar be affected? Eurostar services will not be impacted by the national industrial action.
In conclusion, the ongoing disputes between rail unions and train operators have resulted in significant disruptions for passengers. Despite demands for increased pay and negotiations, a resolution has not yet been reached. It is important for passengers to stay informed about the industrial action and its impact on their travel plans.