Rail strikes were announced for three dates in late June after workers voted in favor of industrial action.
Members of Network Rail’s RMT union and 13 train operators will hold 24-hour walkouts on June 21, 23 and 25.
According to the RMT, it will be “the biggest dispute on the network since 1989” and will affect 40,000 workers. Union general secretary Mick Lynch promised “a sustained industrial action campaign that will shut down the rail system”.
In May, members voted 8 to 1 to strike against jobs, wages and conditions.
Now, in an open letter, RMT has written to affected employees urging them to “stand side by side during industrial action days”.
‘No firm commitments have been obtained from Network Rail or any rail operating company on job security, and no compensation offers have been put forward by any company,’ the letter read.
“During discussions on this issue, all companies indicated that they wanted to continue with their comprehensive ‘workforce reform’ program and cut through a transition process.”
Three 24-hour strikes will take place each of Tuesday June 21, Thursday June 23 and Saturday June 25, 2022.
In a separate dispute over pensions and job losses, members of the London Underground’s RMT will go on strike on June 21. On that day, the union says, more than 50,000 railway workers will join the strike.
Responding to news of strike dates announced by the RMT, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘It is incredibly disappointing that the RMT has decided to take action which could lead passengers away from the rail network for good.
“The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25% fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of £16billion, or £600 per household. We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.
“We are working with industry to reduce the disruption caused by the strikes, but the unions are jumping the gun by announcing this as talks are just beginning.
“We want to once again urge the unions to enter into talks with the rail industry so that we can work together to build a better, more modern and passenger-focused railway.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations the rail industry, with the support of the Government, has not taken their concerns seriously .
“We have a cost of living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to lose their jobs or face another year of wage freezes while inflation is at 11.1% and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained industrial action campaign that will shut down the rail system.
“Rail companies make at least £500million in profits a year, while fat cat railway bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This injustice fuels the anger of our members and their determination to obtain a fair settlement.
“RMT is open to serious negotiations with railway bosses and ministers, but they will have to come up with new proposals to avoid months of disruption to our railways.”
Rail operators call the industrial action ‘disappointing’ and urge the RMT union ‘to continue discussions and call off the strike’, saying it ‘wants to work to find a solution that will avoid strikes and reach a fair deal for passengers, taxpayers and railway staff”.
Passenger numbers remain stubbornly below 80% of pre-pandemic levels, and revenues – previously supported by expensive season tickets in the south-east of England – are said to be even weaker.
Rail Delivery Group Chairman Steve Montgomery said: “We urge RMT leaders to call off the unnecessary and damaging strikes and continue to work with us to secure a fair deal for our people and for the taxpayer while ensuring the long-term future of the railways.
“Nobody wins in a strike. Staff lose salaries, industry loses vital income making it more difficult to raise salaries, and passengers and businesses are disrupted.
“While we will maintain as many services as possible, unfortunately if this action continues significant disruption will be inevitable.”