Unions today moved to worsen and lengthen the upcoming rail strikes as members on CrossCountry, East Midlands and West Midlands trains were asked to walk out in action that could disrupt the Commonwealth Games.
The proposed industrial action by the TSSA, led by Manuel Cortes, would mean that disruption on Britain’s rail network planned for the end of June would also happen in July and even August.
Rail union TSSA has served notice to ballot hundreds more staff for strike action. They will be balloted next week for action in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security.
The union warned a Yes vote could allow for strike action to take place ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which runs from July 28 to August 8.
RMT strikes will cripple services from June 21 to 26, London Underground will be affected by an RMT and Unite strike on June 21, while Aslef members on Hull Trains, Greater Anglia and the Croydon Tramlink will stage a series of walkouts between June 23 and July 14.
It came as Boris Johnson vowed not to ‘surrender’ to the rail unions as two more announced strike plots yesterday as part of a co-ordinated ‘summer of discontent’.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said its members on CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains and West Midlands Trains will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch campaigns of industrial action over pay, conditions and job security.
The union announced on Thursday it will ballot its members at Avanti West Coast for strikes.
Travellers are already facing huge disruption on the railways and London Underground later this month, because of strikes by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Aslef and Unite.
RMT chief Mick Lynch (pictured) and Manuel Cortes Gen. Sec. of The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), are driving the industrial action
Mick Whelan, general secretary of drivers’ union Aslef who announced strikes to coincide with the existing plans from the RMT union which will bring the UK to a standstill on summer
Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not roll over to the rail unions ahead of planned strikes this summer and said he will help the rail industry weather the storm
MailOnline can lay bare the strikes being planned to wreck the summer starting at the end of June and now potentially to mid-July
Wes Streeting becomes latest Labour frontbencher to BACK union walkout just hours after Keir Starmer said his party doesn’t
Labour descended into more chaos over railways strikes today after a senior MP admitted he would vote to walk out just hours after Sir Keir Starmer insisted they ‘shouldn’t go ahead’.
Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting has revealed he is behind the 50,000 RMT members who plan to shut down Britain’s railways and Tube network at the end of June.
Britain’s unions have vowed to bring the country to a standstill in a ‘summer of discontent’ not seen since the 1926 General Strike with railway and Tube workers set to be bolstered by 155,000 comrades at airports, Royal Mail and BT. More than 1million council workers and teachers could strike in the Autumn.
Mr Streeting’s support came after shadow cabinet colleague Lisa Nandy also said she was on the side of the strikers.
Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time last night he claimed that while he wished the strikes weren’t happening, he said: ‘Put it this way, if I was a member of the RMT and my job was at risk like this, then I would be voting to go on strike’. But he added that the Government must step in to broker a pay deal that will call off the industrial action.
Labour has been accused of dithering on the issue, after the party failed to condemn the walkouts for two days in a row.
Sir Keir Starmer failed to mention the strikes at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. Last night his spokesman claimed: ‘We’ve been clear in the position that the strikes shouldn’t go ahead’, adding: ‘There is still time for there to be a resolution and we would encourage the Government to play a more active role in working with Network Rail and the unions to ensure that they don’t go ahead.’
The newly announced TSSA ballots, among 570 workers, open on June 16 and close on July 7.
The Prime Minister told Cabinet colleagues that the Department for Transport and the rail industry had his ‘1,000 per cent support in this fight’.
He pledged that the Government will not simply ‘roll over’ to union demands in the face of threats to bring the railways to a standstill and will help the industry weather the storm if a deal can’t be struck.
It came as train drivers’ union Aslef announced strikes to coincide with those by the militant RMT, heaping more misery on rail travellers this summer.
Aslef drivers on Hull Trains will strike on June 26 and those on Greater Anglia on June 23. Drivers on the Croydon Tramlink, in south London, will also walk out on June 28, 29 and July 13 and 14.
These dates coincide with the RMT’s strikes, which will see 40,000 workers for Network Rail and 13 train firms covering most of the country walk out on June 21, 23 and 25.
It means almost no trains are likely to run on these routes. With the RMT strikes only, as many as one in five services could have been capable of running.
To add insult to injury, the TSSA union yesterday said it would start balloting hundreds of workers for industrial action at train operator Avanti West Coast, which runs services on the west coast main line. It means its members could also walk out on one of the most important rail corridors in the UK from mid-July.
All of the action is over a row on pay and job security.
The news comes after the Daily Mail revealed last month how – in an echo of 1970s union militancy – the heads of the RMT, Aslef and TSSA unions said they are working on plans to inflict the ‘maximum possible disruption’.
Manuel Cortes, the boss of TSSA, which represents Network Rail control room and maintenance workers, noted gleefully: ‘The disruption will be unparalleled.’
A government source said: ‘The Prime Minister said in Cabinet that the Department for Transport and the industry has his 1,000 per cent support in this fight and it’s not going to be a question of folding, we’re not going to surrender on this one.
‘It’s not going to be an easy fight for the RMT where we roll over.
‘You don’t want to go back to the 1970s where you had inflationary pay rises which led to more inflation. You have to keep pay rises sensible to keep inflation down.’
RMT’s strikes will see 40,000 workers for Network Rail and 13 train firms covering most of the country walk out on June 21, 23 and 25. Pictured: An RMT union protest at Parliament in 2021
Which train operators will be affected?
Union members from National Rail and 13 different operators have voted to carry out strike action this month.
Those operators are:
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Railway
- Greater Anglia
- South Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- West Midlands Trains (including London Northwestern Railway)
Ministers and MPs yesterday lined up to criticise the unions. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: ‘The theatre, live music and hospitality industries are some of those which are going to suffer from the planned rail strikes. I again encourage unions to stop these strikes and engage in talks with the rail industry.’
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, posting a link to an article in which Labour’s Lisa Nandy apparently backed the action, tweeted: ‘RMT’s strike action is completely self-defeating.’ He said ‘Labour-backed rail chaos’ would lead to fewer people using trains, drops in revenue, lower pay and job losses.
Commons leader Mark Spencer said the RMT should ‘reflect long and hard’ before making travellers’ lives a misery.
He was responding to Tory MP for East Surrey, Claire Coutinho, asking: ‘Disrupting train services will reduce train revenues and, ultimately, it will lead to job losses and reduce pay for those rail workers. So, could we have a debate on this important issue?’
An internal industry estimate, seen by the Mail, put the potential damage that the RMT strikes alone will inflict on the industry at £150million at least. An industry source said: ‘That would be the equivalent of a pay rise of 5 per cent for each [RMT] worker.
‘It takes money off the table in negotiations. It’s absolutely shooting themselves in the foot.’
Yesterday the Mail revealed how Network Rail negotiators offered the hard-Left RMT a pay rise of at least 2 per cent for its members.
The offer is not far off the 3 per cent pay rise ministers last year gave to NHS staff who were on the front line of the battle against Covid. Negotiators said RMT workers could get an even bigger increase if the union agreed to discuss modernising work practices.
But rather than continue talks, on Tuesday the union’s bosses ordered 40,000 members to strike on June 21, 23 and 25. A further 10,000 will also walk out on the London Underground on June 21.
Like TSSA and Aslef, it wants pay increases for members which recognise the RPI rate of inflation – currently 11.1 per cent. It also wants a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
The RMT’s resistance to modernising work practices has been branded ‘absurd’.
Talks are continuing, but industry sources say they believe a breakthrough is unlikely due to the unions’ apparent intention to strike come what may.
Aslef boss Mick Whelan said: ‘We want a pay rise for train drivers, who kept people and goods moving during the pandemic, in line with the cost of living.’