Militant strikers cripple UK pay rise snubbed: Ministers draw up plans to prevent blackouts and tackle food shortages as it emerges union negotiators have turned down a 2 per cent offer
- Multi-day strikes could see lights go out in places, ministers said
- Union barons offered a pay rise are accused of ‘strike first, negotiate later’
- Network Rail negotiators have offered the far-left RMT a pay rise of at least 2%
- The RMT will strike on June 21, 23 and 25 while the Unite union will join on June 21
Union barons were accused of a ‘strike first, bargain later’ approach yesterday after ordering crippling walkouts despite offering a pay rise for their members.
Network Rail negotiators have offered the far-left RMT a pay rise of at least 2%, it can be revealed.
The offer is not far off the 3% pay rise ministers gave last year to NHS staff who were on the frontline of the battle against Covid.
Negotiators have said RMT workers could get an even bigger raise if the union agrees to start talks about modernizing work practices.
But rather than continue talks, union bosses on Tuesday ordered tens of thousands of members to strike on June 21, 23 and 25.
Ministers and Network Rail are putting in place contingency plans which would prioritize freight trains over passenger services to avoid power outages in some areas and ensure that supermarket shelves and service areas of gasoline remain supplied.
Multi-day strikes could see lights go out in places due to the impact of freight services to power stations, ministers said.
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, pictured at the RMT headquarters in Euston
Commuters enter Liverpool Street Station as an RMT Trade Union Underground strike severely disrupts most London Underground lines in London on Monday
To make matters worse, the Unite union said yesterday that its 1,000 members would join RMT workers in striking on the London Underground on June 21.
Labor was in chaos over yesterday’s strikes after they refused to sentence the RMT union barons for a second day.
A spokesman for party leader Sir Keir Starmer even accused the government of having to “play a more active role”, despite RMT bosses calling for strikes before talks had really started.
Asked if Sir Keir had condemned the strikes, the spokesman said: ‘We have made it clear that the strikes should not take place.
“There is still time for a resolution… people have the right to withdraw their work according to law, but the situation, as a matter of principle, is that we don’t want to see unnecessary disruption to the country.”
But responding to Labor MP Afzal Khan over passport backlogs during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Boris Johnson asked: ‘When it comes to travel chaos, have we ever heard condemnation from the RMT opposition and of their reckless strike?”
The walkouts, the largest since 1989, threaten to cause chaos for millions and would affect key events such as the Glastonbury Music Festival, Armed Forces Day and the British Athletics Championships.
Last night, hospitality industry leaders said the strikes would have a ‘devastating impact’ on businesses as they recover from the pandemic.
A government source said: ‘[The RMT] seem to first relish the prospect of chaos with this strike, let’s negotiate the second approach, which is to put a gun to the head of the industry.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the RMT to “act like adults”. He said: “It would be a mistake on every level to have this strike.”
Commuters form large queues for buses outside Victoria Station during the morning rush hour as London Underground services are severely disrupted due to industrial action on Monday
People wait at the bus station after 4,000 Tube workers went on strike over job losses, disagreements over working conditions and pensions in London on Monday
RMT boss Mick Lynch yesterday denied his union was ‘rushing’ to call a strike. He said: “The talks started two years ago at the start of Covid. They [Network Rail] intend to cut thousands of railway jobs. We think this threatens security because they are cutting security regimes to do this, they are threatening our members’ positions and they won’t give us a raise.
“Most of our members haven’t had a pay deal for two or three years and we need to address those issues now.”
Talks only started in earnest with Network Rail, which is in charge of infrastructure, in recent months after they refused to give a mandatory no-layoff guarantee for this year.
Of the offer made by Network Rail negotiators, an RMT spokesman said: ‘These claims are extremely misleading and do nothing to help resolve this dispute.