Second day of strike by railway workers in Great Britain to demand wage increases in line with inflation

This is the second major strike day of the week, which could be followed by a third Saturday. The strike by British railway workers resumes on Thursday June 23, the day after unsuccessful negotiations on wage increases in line with inflation, which is reaching record highs in the country and could exceed 11% by the end of the year. Only one in five trains will run and the lines will only be open between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., a shorter time slot than usual.

Faced with this historic mobilization, the government announced Thursday its intention to modify the law, to allow the use of temporary workers to replace the strikers and reduce the impact, which it considers “disproportionate” strikes. Subject to parliamentary approval, these changes are expected to come into force in the coming weeks and will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

For the Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, this reform is “vital” and “will ensure that any future strike will cause less disruption and allow adaptable, flexible and qualified staff to continue to work”.

The government has also announced that it is increasing the maximum damages that the courts can impose on a union, when the strike has been found to be illegal. For the largest unions, the maximum compensation will increase from 250,000 pounds sterling to 1 million (1.16 million euros).

Read also: British railway workers begin their biggest strike in 30 years

“Wage increases are possible”

The Union of Rail and Maritime Transport (or RMT, for Rail and Maritime Transport Union, in English) – the transport union calling for the strike – demands wage increases in line with inflation, but also denounces the prospect of “thousands of layoffs” and the deterioration of working conditions.

A Network Rail spokesperson said ” disappointed “ of the failure of the negotiations and judged the strike “unnecessary and premature”. This public manager of the railway network called on travelers to take the train only if necessary.

The Association of Transport Employees (or TSSA, for Transport Employees’ Associationin English) explained, for its part, on Wednesday that its members at Merseyrail, one of the many private rail operators, had accepted an offer of a 7.1% wage increase, putting a little more pressure on the negotiations between RMT and employers. “Wage increases are possible and fully justified”the union tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled the strike “bad and useless” and called them “union barons” to sit down at the negotiating table and the sector to agree to modernize to avoid bankruptcies. The Conservative leader also recalled that the British government had supported the sector during the pandemic to the tune of 16 billion pounds.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Transport: the United Kingdom fears a “summer of discontent”

The World with AFP

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