Brits brag about sunbathing as bosses warn week-long rail strikes will cripple the economy

Left-wing and lazy Britons today hailed ‘Godsend’ strikers for shutting down the UK’s rail and Tube network so they can work from home all week – including many who bragged about sunning themselves in their gardens and urged others to do the same.

Train cancellations have already started this afternoon ahead of the worst shutdown of Britain’s railways for 30 years from tomorrow that will cause another effective lockdown for Britain’s already stuttering economy amid union barons’ threat to hold strikes up until Christmas.

Millions of people will be forced to battle into work on foot, bike or in rammed buses due to the three days of strikes that run tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday. The strike has been designed so there will also be severe disruption for on non-strike days too, causing six days of chaos. 

But there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week – and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

One tweeted: ‘Get to work from home this week. Keep up the good non-work union chaps’. Another said: ‘A whole wfh week, perhaps the strikes aren’t so bad’. One critic suggested that the union members walking out over pay this week will be doing so to top up their tans while another shared a picture of the blue skies over Britain and said: ‘Thanks to you brave lads I get to WFH in the sun’. Some shared pictures of their drinks and breakfasts.

But as it was claimed the strike will cost Britain £100million, Treasury minister Simon Clarke told LBC today: ‘It is against that backdrop that it is simply unsustainable for unions like the RMT to be making things worse, driving unrest, damaging the economy and stoking unrealistic expectations which actually, if they were realised, would prolong and intensify inflation.’ 

The rail strikes will also directly affect pupils, who are taking their GCSEs and A-levels this week, which rely on trains to get them to school. The walkouts will also cause misery for music and sports fans, especially the 200,000 people heading to the Glastonbury Festival after a three-year hiatus. 

Now BARRISTERS vote to strike next week

Barristers voted to strike today in a row over legal aid funding as teachers, binmen and NHS staff all threatened to walk out on a level not seen since the Winter of Discontent in the 1970s.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said several days of court walkouts will begin from next week along with a refusal to take on new cases.

The promised industrial action, announced this morning following a ballot of members, comes at a time of significant backlogs across the court system due to the pandemic.

The CBA said around 81.5% of the more than 2,000 members to respond supported industrial action.

Jo Sidhu QC and Kirsty Brimelow QC from the CBA said: ‘This extraordinary commitment to the democratic process reflects a recognition amongst criminal barristers at all levels of call and across all Circuits that what is at stake is the survival of a profession of specialist criminal advocates and of the criminal justice system which depends so critically upon their labour.

‘Without immediate action to halt the exodus of criminal barristers from our ranks, the record backlog that has crippled our courts will continue to inflict misery upon victims and defendants alike, and the public will be betrayed.’

Talks are ongoing today to try and avert the rail strikes – but insider have suggests that any resolution is highly unlikely.

TomTom traffic data revealed that congestion was up 11 per cent in London this morning compared to last Monday, with 350 traffic jams of more than 180 miles in length combined, as people took to their cars and vans to avoid disruption on public transport.

And today it emerged that teachers, doctors, binmen, barristers and postmen could join rail workers in heaping walkout misery upon Britain this Summer and into the Autumn.

Some of Britain’s railway companies will run emergency timetables from this morning and Transport for Wales has warned people should ‘only travel by rail if necessary’ on Monday with trains from Scotland to London disrupted from 7pm and the Heathrow Express shutting down from 11pm. Grand Central have cancelled their 5.30pm train from Sunderland to London.

The RMT Union claims it now has a ‘mandate’ for six months of industrial action – potentially at just a fortnight’s notice each time – after boss Mick Lynch reportedly rejected a two per cent pay rise for his 40,000 members who walkout later. RMT assistant general secretary John Leach insisted today there had been no pay rise offered at all.

As Britain’s railways are set to shut down, it also emerged today:

Rail bosses have also admitted that they believe they are in a war of ‘attrition’ that will last months and will hit millions of people and cost the economy up to £100million at a time when the country faces a cost of living crisis and a potential recession. They may offer bonuses to any staff who cross picket lines to do their jobs.

Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to bring in reforms to curb rail strikes that he promised in 2019.  The Government has failed to keep its manifesto pledge and bring in legislation that will ensure a minimum train service of around 30% during strikes, which is already mandatory in France and Spain.

there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week - and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week - and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week – and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week - and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

there are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week - and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

There are some who are celebrating being to work from home for the week – and a tacit admission by some that they will be spending more time sunbathing than getting on with their jobs in the coming days.

Commuters at Waterloo Station today ahead of national rail strikes that begin tomorrow but have already began to hurt millions of commuters

Commuters at Waterloo Station today ahead of national rail strikes that begin tomorrow but have already began to hurt millions of commuters

Commuters arrive at Kings Cross station in London. Rail lines across Britain will be closed for three days, starting tomorrow

Commuters arrive at Kings Cross station in London. Rail lines across Britain will be closed for three days, starting tomorrow

Passengers board a train at Hunts Cross Station, Liverpool. MerseyRail has announced all trains will stop tomorrow due to industrial action.

Passengers board a train at Hunts Cross Station, Liverpool. MerseyRail has announced all trains will stop tomorrow due to industrial action.

TomTom traffic data revealed that congestion was up 11 per cent in London this morning compared to last Monday, with 350 traffic jams of more than 180 miles in length combined, as people took to their cars and vans to avoid disruption on public transport

TomTom traffic data revealed that congestion was up 11 per cent in London this morning compared to last Monday, with 350 traffic jams of more than 180 miles in length combined, as people took to their cars and vans to avoid disruption on public transport

The scale of strikes has not been seen for decades and are already set to last for months

The scale of strikes has not been seen for decades and are already set to last for months

Mick Lynch, Secretary-General of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers speaks at a trades union organised protest march opposed to British government policies at Parliament Square in London on Saturday

Mick Lynch, Secretary-General of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers speaks at a trades union organised protest march opposed to British government policies at Parliament Square in London on Saturday

End of the line for ticket offices? Passengers would have to book train trips online under new plan that could see closure of every booth in the country 

Every railway ticket office in England could close under plans to save £500million a year, it was reported yesterday.

Passengers would have to book online under proposals by the industry to ‘repurpose’ the country’s 980 remaining offices.

This would badly affect millions of elderly, disabled and disadvantaged passengers, warned the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.

The union said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps over the report and previous rumours about closures. General secretary Manuel Cortes said losing ticket offices ‘will simply make more members vote for strike action’. 

Last week Mr Shapps said that one in eight train tickets are sold over the counter.

In response to The Sunday Times report, the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said no decision had been taken on ticket offices.

A spokesman added ‘many jobs will need to change to become more passenger-centric’ as travel and buying patterns change.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, added: ‘Many more [older people] lack an up-to-date smartphone or tablet, or live in a place with unreliable broadband.

‘These people have relied on buying tickets face-to-face or over the phone and then collecting them from a station machine. What are they expected to do if everything goes online?’

More than 40,000 RMT rail workers will walk out from tomorrow with tens of thousands of other union members in actions that will cripple much of the UK’s transport infrastructure with disruption to last six days.

450,000 teachers are ready to strike if they don’t like a pay offer from Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi due on Wednesday, with the National Education Union declaring they are ready to ballot staff.

Christina McAnea, the head of Unison, the country’s biggest union representing much of the NHS, said last night that the Government must make a ‘sensible pay award… or risk a potential dispute’.

The RMT will set out its next strike plans by the end of the week, with industrial action to disrupt the start of the summer holidays in late July being mooted. An union source told the Telegraph: ‘We have a mandate for strike action for six months. The National Executive Committee will decide what to do next. They will only meet after this week and then need to give the employers two weeks’ notice.’

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.

 

Other trade unions are threatening walkouts this summer which could see action from teachers, NHS staff, barristers, postmen and more.

With services slashed to 20 per cent of their normal frequency, some locations have been cut off entirely and passengers warned not to travel unless their journeys are absolutely necessary, with the national network likely to be paralysed by walkouts.

Up to 1.5million workers are being balloted over strike action on a level not seen since the Winter of Discontent in the late 1970s.

John Leach, assistant general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), said workers are ‘determined’ to get ‘justice for themselves’.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether transport workers will stick with the negotiations if it becomes a ‘war of attrition’, Mr Leach said the workers in his union have ‘grit and determination’.

He said: ‘The men and women in my union who keep Britain moving across the entire railway network are some of the most determined, professional, dedicated people you’ll ever meet.

‘They kept this country moving through the pandemic, they keep the railways moving every single day and it’s that kind of grit and determination that’s going to mean that they will stick with this negotiation and justice for themselves in that regard, right through to the end.

‘That’s why we’re so clear about this. We didn’t want to be in this situation – that has to be said – but we are determined to see this through.’

Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke said the Government’s involvement in talks over the rail dispute would ‘confuse things’ as he called for industry reforms.

Asked if the Government should be part of the talks because of its role in setting the negotiating mandate, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Ultimately, it will only confuse things if we add a third party to these negotiations.

‘The train operating companies and Network Rail are working to deliver a sensible programme of reform and a sensible and fair pay deal with the trade unions.’

He added: ‘The practices that are in place across the network are out with the ark, frankly, and need to be reformed.

‘It cannot be the case that we have put in £16 billion during the pandemic as taxpayers, worth £600 per household, and still have a railway system where some of what goes on occurs and where, frankly, fares are higher than they need to be and efficiency is lower than it should be because of the way the trade unions operate.’

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the Government is ‘hobbling’ talks between unions and rail operators.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Haigh said the Government has not set a negotiating mandate.

‘At the moment, without the Government there the negotiations are a sham,’ she said.

How Britain’s rail network will grind to a halt due to multiple strikes amid ‘summer of discontent’ 

‘It’s not possible for them to find a resolution and avoid the dispute without the Government being represented at the talks, setting a mandate for the train operators and providing genuine scope in order to find a resolution.

‘Without them there, it’s impossible for them to find a way forward and, therefore, it is inevitable that industrial action will happen.’

Sir Keir Starmer yesterday again failed to condemn rail strikes that will cause chaos this week and cost businesses hundreds of millions of pounds.

‘The plan by unions to bring Britain to a standstill by holding strikes across swathes of the economy and our public services is deeply selfish,’ said Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden.

‘Hard-pressed families and businesses will suffer extra costs and disruption caused by these unnecessary strikes.’

Lord Blunkett, the Labour former home secretary, urged union bosses to ‘stop pretending they are in the 1970s or 1980s’.

Last night, senior rail sources said that agency workers are not going to be the ‘silver bullet’ many are hoping for to help stop the disruptive strikes.

The rail and Tube strikes are likely to cost the economy at least £91million in staff absences alone, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). They calculated that 0.8 per cent of staff – more than 250,000 people – will not be able to get to work. 

More than half of all trains to Glasto have been cancelled 

More than half of the trains due to serve the Glastonbury Festival have been cancelled because of rail strikes.

Tens of thousands of revellers will be forced to find alternative routes to the site in Pilton, Somerset.

Great Western Railway (GWR) is operating just five services from London Paddington to Castle Cary on Thursday, with a total of 24 between Wednesday and Friday.

Before the industrial action was announced, 51 trains were expected to run on the route over the three-day period.

GWR told passengers: ‘We plan to maintain timetabled trains between Castle Cary and London Paddington throughout the course of the Glastonbury Festival.

‘Some services might be subject to alterations to train times and we will be in contact with customers who have already booked seats on board those trains.’

It added: ‘Other parts of the GWR network are likely to be more affected by the strike action and customers may need to consider alternative ways to travel to a station serving Castle Cary.’

Rail strikes are being held across Britain on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but their effects mean services will be disrupted from Monday night until the end of the week.

Roads serving the Glastonbury Festival will be exceptionally busy, with motoring groups advising drivers to avoid the region if possible.

 

They said that while the industry would welcome plans for agency workers to cover gaps in the workforce, it would ‘only prove useful’ in the ‘less skilled parts’ of railway companies.

The source told The Times: ‘It takes a year to train someone as a signaller. In the same way you can’t just put an agency worker in the cab of a train, it’s not a silver bullet by any measure.’ 

Two teaching unions with a combined membership of around 750,000 yesterday became the latest to warn of walkouts unless salaries go up.

And half a million Health Service staff could strike over their pay offer.

Commuters will not be the only ones facing chaos this week, as doctors, nurses, workers in the civil service and local governments, postal workers, traffic wardens and BT engineers are said to be considering joining strike ballots. 

RMT union boss Mick Lynch yesterday suggested the rail strikes could stretch into the autumn, warning: ‘There are going to be many unions balloting across the country, because people can’t take it anymore.’

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said Labour’s failure to condemn the strikes showed it was in hock to the unions.

He added: ‘Now they want to take us back to the 1970s and bring this country to a standstill. Many people still remember the Winter of Discontent, 25 per cent inflation, sky-high interest rates, IMF bailouts, three-day weeks and rubbish on the streets.

‘We must tackle this head on and show that the British people will not be held to ransom.’

The NASUWT teaching union said yesterday that its 300,000 members would be balloted unless the Government backed demands for a 12 per cent pay rise.

General secretary Patrick Roach said Britain faced an ‘existential emergency for the future of the teaching profession’ because of the cost-of-living crisis coupled with ‘real-terms pay cuts’.

He added: ‘The Government wrongly assumed teachers would simply stand by as they erode pay and strip our education system to the bone. If a pay rise is not awarded, it will be won by our members in workplaces through industrial action.’

The National Education Union will also prepare to ballot its 460,000 members – ranging from teachers and lecturers to support staff – unless an acceptable pay rise is offered in line with inflation.

Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘If there is no significant improvement on 3 per cent – which will leave an 8 per cent gap with inflation this year alone – we cannot avoid a ballot. The mood among teachers has changed.

‘Last year the issue was mainly workload. This year it is workload and pay.’

LONDON -- This Transport for London map shows greyed-out lines for those that will be affected by disruption fr

LONDON — This Transport for London map shows greyed-out lines for those that will be affected by disruption from tomorrow.  Only the Croydon Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway are shown as running normally

LNER: The operator says it will be running only 38 per cent of its usual trains, with the last from London to Edinburgh at 2pm

LNER: The operator says it will be running only 38 per cent of its usual trains, with the last from London to Edinburgh at 2pm

GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY -- A very limited services will run Cardiff or Plymouth to London via Bristol, Swindon and Reading

GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY — A very limited services will run Cardiff or Plymouth to London via Bristol, Swindon and Reading

SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY: There will be no trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter

SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY: There will be no trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter

SOUTHEASTERN - Limited services set to run between London, Kent and East Sussex next week on June 21, 23 and 25

SOUTHEASTERN – Limited services set to run between London, Kent and East Sussex next week on June 21, 23 and 25

GREAT NORTHERN, GATWICK EXPRESS, SOUTHERN AND THAMESLINK: This map from Govia Thameslink Railway shows the trains expected to operate on its network during strike action next week on June 21, 23 and 25 - a fraction of normal services

GREAT NORTHERN, GATWICK EXPRESS, SOUTHERN AND THAMESLINK: This map from Govia Thameslink Railway shows the trains expected to operate on its network during strike action next week on June 21, 23 and 25 – a fraction of normal services 

Unison members and members of the public take part in a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers. Picture date: Saturday June 18, 2022

Unison members and members of the public take part in a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers. Picture date: Saturday June 18, 2022

Minister warns public sector workers not to expect huge pay roses  

On the eve of the most widespread shutdown of the railways in three decades, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke ruled out direct government involvement in talks between operators and the RMT today.

On the eve of the most widespread shutdown of the railways in three decades, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke ruled out direct government involvement in talks between operators and the RMT today.

Public sector workers cannot expect ‘inflation-busting pay increases’ that risk fuelling the ‘evil of inflation’ further, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said.

Simon Clarke called for ‘public-sector pay discipline’ and ‘collective society-wide responsibility’ in order to prevent a 1970s-style wage-price spiral.

The Bank of England last week forecast inflation was set to hit 11 per cent in the autumn as it hiked interest rates to 1.25% – the fifth successive rise.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today if public sector workers should not expect a pay rise in line with inflation, Mr Clarke replied: ‘Correct.’

He told the programme: ‘In the current landscape of inflation at 9 per cent bordering 10 per cent, it is not a sustainable expectation that inflation can be matched in payoff…

‘We cannot get into a world where we are chasing inflation expectations in that way because that is the surest way I can think of to bake in a repeat of the 1970s, which this Government is determined to prevent.’

 

Unison, the country’s biggest union, has indicated half a million members could strike over the upcoming NHS pay offer, which is expected in June, if it falls short of the 9.2 per cent rate of inflation.

The NHS walkout would likely see thousands of appointments and operations missed because patients will be unable to get to hospitals and surgeries.

National medical director of NHS England, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said it was ‘vital’ that people sought appointments and treatment despite the disruption.

General secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The Government has a simple choice. Either it makes a sensible pay award, investing in staff and services and reducing delays for patients or it risks a potential dispute, growing workforce shortages and increased suffering for the sick.’

The British Medication Association has also said it would ballot members over junior doctors’ pay. And the railways could be hit by further strikes in the summer holidays after the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association served notice to ballot hundreds of workers at Southeastern and Great Western Railway over demands for no compulsory redundancies and a pay rise.

Some 115,000 Royal Mail workers are set to be balloted by the Communication Workers Union in another dispute over pay.

Royal Mail announced last week that staff would receive a 2 per cent pay rise but CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said it was ‘nowhere near acceptable’.

On Tuesday, teenagers sitting GCSE history or dance, or A-level German, religious studies, or maths could be hit. Those taking A-level chemistry or GCSE physics on Thursday could also be affected.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which has around 180,000 members in the Civil Service, will also vote in September over possible action over its demand for a 10 per cent pay rise. Barristers are voting on whether to strike over legal aid rates, with a decision due today.

Lord Blunkett last night warned the unions that mass walkouts would be counter-productive. ‘The one way to lose all support and ensure the re-election of Boris Johnson is to fall into the elephant trap,’ he said.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will table legislation as early as this week to let businesses recruit temporary staff during walkouts, a practice that is currently banned.

And the walkouts are also expected to cause misery for music and spots fans, with Glastonbury Festival, which will see 200,000 revellers return to Somerset for the first time in three years, also hit.

Many festival-goers typically take the train to the nearest station at Castle Cary before catching a bus to the festival site.

While Great Western Railway said it planned to keep some trains running between the station and London Paddington during the festival, it has warned the times of some services might change.

Coach firm National Express said it had seen ‘a significant increase in both inquiries and bookings’ as people opt to travel with it, and warned of heavy traffic around the festival site.

Who else is set to join the summer strike contagion? 

Strikes could spread across the economy in the coming months. These are the areas affected – and those which could be hit – and the unions behind the ballots.

TRANSPORT

Strikes by the RMT across three days this week will close half of the country’s rail network and reduce service to a fifth of normal levels.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) is also balloting thousands of staff at Network Rail and several train companies, with the possibility of strikes as soon as July.

The train drivers’ union Aslef is set to strike at Greater Anglia and the Croydon Tramlink in the coming weeks.

Unite is also balloting about 500 British Airways check-in staff at Heathrow over a refusal to reverse a 10 per cent pandemic pay cut. If workers vote in favour, strikes are likely in July – potentially ruining some summer holidays.

EDUCATION

Teachers’ union NAS/UWT will ballot members over action unless the Government backs demands for a 12 per cent pay rise. A pay award for 2022/23 is due in November.

The National Education Union has said it will ballot its 460,000 members if a pay rise in line with inflation is not offered by the Government.

HEALTHCARE

Unison, which represents NHS staff, has said strikes are possible unless the annual pay offer for them is not close to the rate of inflation. The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, has also said it will prepare for a ballot unless junior doctors are given a 22 per cent ‘restorative’ pay rise.

The Royal College of Nursing has also demanded a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation.

CIVIL SERVICE

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil service workers, will hold a ballot in September over pay, pensions and redundancies.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Unison, GMB and Unite unions have said local government staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should receive a pay increase of at least £2,000 each. Workers include rubbish collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers.

Unite said it will support ‘any action’ by workers to achieve a pay rise.

LAW 

The Criminal Bar Association, which represents barristers, is balloting members over legal aid rates which could result in walk-outs.

COMMUNICATIONS

The Communication Workers Union will ballot Royal Mail workers in a dispute over a pay rise offer of 2 per cent.

The union has also sent ballot papers to BT workers including engineers, contact centre staff and retail employees over pay. It could result in the first strike at the company since it was privatised in the mid-1980s.

PARKING WARDENS 

For some commuters hit by rising fuel costs and rail strikes, it is the glimmer of a silver lining.

This month traffic wardens will start a seven-day strike in protest at pay cuts and ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

The walkout in Wiltshire means penalty charge notices will not be issued and charges in council car parks will not be enforced, costing £30,000 in revenue.

The action by the GMB from June 30 to July 6 follows two days of strikes in the county in May.

The union is opposing a pay cut of 10 per cent, or £2,000 a year, for traffic wardens, and said members were ‘at the end of their tether’.

Wiltshire Council is seeking to save £800,000 annually by ending contractual unsocial hours payments for almost 350 staff, including social workers and care workers.

Will rail strikes wreck your week? From hospitals and holidays, to glamping and Glastonbury… how the walkouts will bite across the country

Britain is braced for a week of chaos as the biggest rail strike in a generation looks likely to paralyse the national network. 

With services slashed to 20 per cent of their normal frequency, some places cut off entirely and passengers warned not to travel unless their journeys are absolutely necessary, here is how the walkouts are set to cripple different sectors.

NHS

Thousands of appointments and operations are likely to be missed because patients will be unable to get to hospitals and surgeries.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said it was ‘vital’ that people sought appointments and treatment despite the disruption.

‘I am urging those who have appointments booked in to plan ahead and look at alternative options for getting to their GP practice or hospital if needed,’ he said.

Thousands of appointments and operations are likely to be missed because of next week's rail strikes

Thousands of appointments and operations are likely to be missed because of next week’s rail strikes

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the walkouts will ‘put patients at risk’ as doctors, nurses and other frontline staff struggle to get to work.

One senior NHS leader warned the strikes ‘will probably end up killing people because they’ll prevent ambulance trust staff getting to work’.

The strikes are expected to hit London hospitals especially hard, as many have limited parking capacity for patients who decide to drive to appointments.

Both London Ambulance Service Trust and South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust have moved to the highest level of alert, which shows they are under extreme pressure.

Schools

Families of pupils sitting GCSEs and A-levels who usually rely on trains to get them to school have been urged to find travel arrangements for this week.

On Tuesday, those teenagers who are sitting GCSE history or dance, or A-level German, religious studies or maths could be hit. 

On Thursday, those who will be taking A-level chemistry or GCSE physics papers may be affected.

Students sitting GCSE history or dance, or A-level German, religious studies or maths could be affected by the strike action

Students sitting GCSE history or dance, or A-level German, religious studies or maths could be affected by the strike action

A total of 17 GCSE and 22 A-level papers could be disrupted by the strikes.

Schools will be allowed to begin exams up to 30 minutes late or relocate them to mitigate against disruption, according to guidance from the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the UK’s biggest exam boards.

Julie McCulloch, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said while most pupils lived near schools and typically travelled by bus, it was important that families made ‘alternative arrangements’ for those reliant on trains.

She urged pupils worried about how they would attend exams to talk to their school to discuss their options.

Economy

The rail and Tube strikes are likely to cost the economy at least £91million in staff absences alone, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). 

The CEBR calculated that 0.8 per cent of staff – more than 250,000 people – will not be able to get to work.

It estimates that almost half the £91million – £45.1million – will be incurred tomorrow, given the greater number of commuters then and the separate London Underground strikes.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pictured during a press conference in Downing Street last month

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pictured during a press conference in Downing Street last month

On Thursday, output losses are estimated at £26.3million, while on Saturday, they are expected to be £19.6million.

The capital is set to face the largest hit, with a loss to the economy of £52million, it found.

Other estimates suggest the cost to the UK economy overall could be as much as £450million.

Major events

The walkouts are expected to cause misery for music and sports fans. 

Following a three-year hiatus Glastonbury Festival returns from Wednesday, with 200,000 revellers heading to Somerset.

Many festival-goers typically take the train to the nearest station at Castle Cary before catching a bus to the festival site. 

While Great Western Railway said it planned to keep some trains running between the station and London Paddington during the festival, it has warned the times of some services might change.

Coach firm National Express said it had seen ‘a significant increase in both inquiries and bookings’ as people opt to travel with it, and warned of heavy traffic around the festival site.

Following a three-year hiatus Glastonbury Festival returns from Wednesday, but festival-goers who usually take the train to the event will be affected

Following a three-year hiatus Glastonbury Festival returns from Wednesday, but festival-goers who usually take the train to the event will be affected

Sports fans are also set to be hit for six when England plays its third Test match against New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds from June 23 to 27. 

The UK Athletics Championships run from Friday to Sunday in Manchester.

By-elections in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton take place on Thursday, while Elton John and the Rolling Stones are playing gigs in London’s Hyde Park on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Nationwide events to commemorate veterans could also be disrupted as UK Armed Forces Day takes place on Saturday.

Hospitality and holidays

UK Hospitality, which represents the tourism, leisure and theatre sectors, warned the strikes could cost businesses over a billion pounds.

Footfall looks set to drop by 9.3 per cent across all retail outlets this week, with high streets due to be visited by 10 per cent fewer customers, while the figure for shopping centres will be 13 per cent down, according to the retail consultancy Springboard.

Holidaymakers hoping to travel by train to London airports are being warned to expect severe disruption and reduced timetables.

There will be no Gatwick Express services on strike days, while the Stansted Express and Heathrow Express services will run just two trains an hour, with much later first and earlier last trains.

Eurostar is running a reduced timetable next week and has cancelled 41 trains between London and Paris and Brussels and Amsterdam.

The roads

Experts have warned of a surge in congestion as commuters who usually take the train may opt to drive instead

Experts have warned of a surge in congestion as commuters who usually take the train may opt to drive instead

People who decide to drive or take the bus due to the strikes should brace themselves for a surge in congestion, experts have said.

Many of those without cars are turning to bus travel. Stagecoach, the country’s biggest bus and coach operator, said next week’s bookings for its Megabus service had increased by 85 per cent.

Main motorway arteries and roads in rural and suburban areas are likely to be the worst affected, the AA predicted, although it said it expected the impact to be ‘slightly cushioned by record fuel prices’ and some commuters working from home.

AA president Edmund King has called for all road charges to be waived on strike days to stop areas becoming ‘ghost towns’, while business minister Paul Scully urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to suspend road charges and non-essential roadworks to help people get to work. 

 

Rail strike blame game continues: Ministers refuse to intervene in last day of crunch strike talks as unions prepare to bring the country to its knees – amid Labour claims that the government is deliberately ‘hobbling’ attempts to halt mass walkout

Ministers today refused to make a last-gasp intervention that could avert a massive strike due to cripple the UK’s train network tomorrow.

On the eve of the most widespread shutdown of the railways in three decades, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke ruled out direct government involvement in talks between operators and the RMT today.

Millions of people will be forced to work from home or battle into work on foot, bike or in rammed buses due to the three days of strikes that run tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday. The strike has been designed so there will also be severe disruption for on non-strike days too, causing six days of chaos.

But Mr Clarke refused entreaties for ministers to play a larger role in averting the crisis, saying they would only  ‘confuse things’.

His remarks prompted claims from Labour that ministers are deliberately trying to ‘hobble’ any attempt to halt the strike, for political reasons.  

The rail strikes will also directly affect pupils, who are taking their GCSEs and A-levels this week, which rely on trains to get them to school. The walkouts will also cause misery for music and sports fans, especially the 200,000 people heading to the Glastonbury Festival after a three-year hiatus.

And today it emerged that teachers, doctors, binmen, barristers and postmen could join rail workers in heaping walkout misery upon Britain this Summer and into the Autumn. 

On the eve of the most widespread shutdown of the railways in three decades, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke ruled out direct government involvement in talks between operators and the RMT today.

On the eve of the most widespread shutdown of the railways in three decades, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke ruled out direct government involvement in talks between operators and the RMT today.

The scale of strikes has not been seen for decades and are already set to last for months

The scale of strikes has not been seen for decades and are already set to last for months

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the Government of 'wanting the strikes to go ahead, telling Grant Shapps to 'grow up' and stop 'throwing muck'.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the Government of ‘wanting the strikes to go ahead, telling Grant Shapps to ‘grow up’ and stop ‘throwing muck’.

Mick Lynch, Secretary-General of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers speaks at a trades union organised protest march opposed to British government policies at Parliament Square in London on Saturday

Mick Lynch, Secretary-General of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers speaks at a trades union organised protest march opposed to British government policies at Parliament Square in London on Saturday

Asked if the Government should be part of the talks because of its role in setting the negotiating mandate, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Ultimately, it will only confuse things if we add a third party to these negotiations.

‘The train operating companies and Network Rail are working to deliver a sensible programme of reform and a sensible and fair pay deal with the trade unions.’

He added: ‘The practices that are in place across the network are out with the ark, frankly, and need to be reformed.

‘It cannot be the case that we have put in £16 billion during the pandemic as taxpayers, worth £600 per household, and still have a railway system where some of what goes on occurs and where, frankly, fares are higher than they need to be and efficiency is lower than it should be because of the way the trade unions operate.’

He also lashed out at public sector workers demanding pay rises inline with, or high than, inflation, which is set to hit 11 per cent this year. 

‘The Government is trying in good faith to manage what is a very difficult balancing act between making sure that people get the pay awards they they deserve … this has to be set against the wider responsibility I have, the Government has, to the public finances to make sure they are sustainable,’ he told Sky News.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last night urged Labour leader  Keir Starmer to finally condemn the rail strikes that will cause chaos for millions of travellers tomorrow.

The Transport Secretary called on the Labour leader to issue a last-minute appeal for the unions to reopen their negotiations with bosses.

Sir Keir stopped short of denouncing the action yesterday, merely repeating his line that the ‘strikes should not go ahead’.

In a letter to the opposition leader, Mr Shapps wrote: ‘This week, the RMT union will inflict huge disruption on families and businesses with the biggest rail strikes in Britain since 1989.

‘These strikes will hit millions of families in the pocket. They will harm the economy and damage businesses. They will disrupt operations on the NHS and jeopardise GCSE and A-level exams.

‘The public will not forgive the Labour Party for siding with those who are attempting to bring our country to a standstill.

‘It’s time for Labour to stop backing these strikes, and urge your union paymasters to talk, not walk.’  

But today, shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the Government of ‘wanting the strikes to go ahead, telling Mr Shapps to ‘grow up’ and stop ‘throwing muck’.

‘At the moment, without the Government there the negotiations are a sham,’ she told the BBC.

‘It’s not possible for them to find a resolution and avoid the dispute without the Government being represented at the talks, setting a mandate for the train operators and providing genuine scope in order to find a resolution.

‘Without them there, it’s impossible for them to find a way forward and, therefore, it is inevitable that industrial action will happen.’

Challenged that the Government is not a party in the negotiations, Ms Haigh said: ‘The Department of Transport are a party because they set the negotiating mandate for the train operating companies and they have so far refused to do that, so not only are they boycotting the talks, they’re actually hobbling them and therefore that’s why it is imperative that they step in.’

The Transport Secretary, pictured, highlighted revelations in The Mail on Sunday about how Sir Keir had effectively backed the strikes by opposing attempts to block them

Labour leader Sir Keir stopped short of denouncing the action yesterday, merely repeating his line that the ‘strikes should not go ahead’

Labour leader Sir Keir stopped short of denouncing the action yesterday, merely repeating his line that the ‘strikes should not go ahead’

John Leach, assistant general secretary of the RMT said workers are ‘determined’ to get ‘justice for themselves’. 

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether transport workers will stick with the negotiations if it becomes a ‘war of attrition’, Mr Leach said the workers in his union have ‘grit and determination’.

He said: ‘The men and women in my union who keep Britain moving across the entire railway network are some of the most determined, professional, dedicated people you’ll ever meet.

‘They kept this country moving through the pandemic, they keep the railways moving every single day and it’s that kind of grit and determination that’s going to mean that they will stick with this negotiation and justice for themselves in that regard, right through to the end.

‘That’s why we’re so clear about this. We didn’t want to be in this situation – that has to be said – but we are determined to see this through.’

He also said the union would like more support from the Labour Party and that the Government are ‘abjectly failing’ in their responsibilities.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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