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Despite delays, Brits are in the biggest strike in 33 years with struggling rail staff

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Passengers facing huge delays during the biggest rail strike in 33 years have expressed their sympathy for the ‘struggling’ workers who were forced to leave in protest.

More than 50,000 rail workers left their stations when negotiations between unions and rail bosses collapsed on Monday.

Instead, thousands have joined pickets to protest what the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has called an “aggressive agenda” to freeze wages, cut jobs, pensions and secure conditions for its members

As a result, on three planned strike days, today (June 21), Thursday and Saturday, only 20 per cent of normal rail services operate between drastically shorter hours.

But Britons, who arrived at deserted train stations as they struggled to commute to work or travel to meet loved ones, told the Mirror they sympathized with the workers and said the strikes were “justified”.







Passengers await news of the next available trains at Waterloo station
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Future release via Getty Imag)







Trains parked at a standstill in Basford Hall Yard, Crewe, Cheshire
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Robert, a retired electrical engineer from Hadston, Northumberland, was waiting at Newcastle railway station to travel to Newark with his wife Pauline.

He said: “We are both Tory voters but they are starting to fall apart. Under Cameron we had austerity and then Theresa May said it was over.

“But now we have people who are making the same amount as they were 9/10 years ago.

“The strike action is justified, but it always comes down to the same thing – the government wants to keep wage increases at around 2 percent while working people want increases that rise with inflation.







RMT members on the picket line at Newcastle railway station
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Buses are overcrowded as rail travelers find other travel options
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“If you do that you have solicitors, NHS workers all wanting the same thing and with inflation at 11 per cent you can’t do that
the.

“It is a doom-loop.”

The government, which owns Network Rail, has defied calls to take part in the negotiations as Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike action.

Transport Secretary Grant Schapps called asking the government to get involved a “stunt” as he dismissed RMT’s claims that the Tories were actively preventing employers and the union from reaching an agreement.







Grant Shapps has resisted calls for participation in the negotiations as a “stunt”.
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But rail workers and passengers alike slammed the government as they revealed their fears for “everyday families” struggling to make ends meet after a three-year wage freeze and a cost-of-living crisis.

A train guard, who wished to remain anonymous, said he feared for his friends and colleagues who are struggling to pay their bills.

The RMT member, who has worked at Liverpool Lime Street station for 20 years, said: “The Government says the average wage is £43,000 but they take into account the train drivers who are over £50,000 and they are not arguing, I am don’t see any of them here.

“I don’t have anywhere near £43,000, I have £29,000 and I’m not complaining about that, I think it’s good pay for an honest day’s work, but I’m not here for myself, I’m here for all my vulnerable minimum-wage colleagues , the cleaners, the catering staff and so on.







RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch claims the government has been actively preventing employers from reaching an agreement with unions
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“I look at the pickets here and I see people fighting. I don’t fight, but I don’t want to start fighting either.

“The government says they are not involved but they also say they set the agenda, when they set the agenda they have to sit down at the table and negotiate with us, if they don’t want to they have to let us go ahead with that and let’s sort it out among ourselves.

“We do not play with tonka toys, this is a critical safety environment in which we work and it must be treated with respect.

“Boris Johnson says he’s ‘moving up’ but I don’t see him doing that, he looks at industries where you get fair pay for an honest day’s work and bring it down.

“This isn’t leveling, it’s a race to the bottom.”







Platforms and concourse are deserted on Liverpool Lime Street at rush hour
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Monster queues have formed on British motorways
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Another RMT member told the Mirror that before overtime, working for train attendants serving food and hot drinks makes around £18,000 a year.

Train Warden David King, 40, a father of two from Newcastle and a member of the RMT Executive Committee, stressed that the strike action was a “last resort” after lengthy negotiations.

He explained that he has not had his £30,000 annual salary increased for almost three years while he has been working non-stop
the pandemic.

“We just want a fair raise,” he said.

“We can’t keep up with the cost of living on our current salaries. You have to keep in mind that many RMT members make £18-30k a year, not the phone salaries that many of the managers draw.







Train Warden Dave King on the picket line at Newcastle railway station
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“They’ve had big raises, but frontline workers who have worked during the pandemic and have endured all kinds of abuse are at risk of forced layoffs and changes to their salaries and pensions.”

The mass strike has resulted in widespread travel chaos, with monstrous motorway jams, huge queues for rail replacement buses and passengers being forced to take longer and circuitous routes to their destinations.

The last industrial strike of this magnitude in Britain was in 1989.

Sean Hayes, 38, a retail manager from Liverpool, Merseyside, had to arrive two hours early to catch a train that would take twice as long as normal to get him to work in Manchester.

But although he admitted he lost two hours of paid work every day of the strike this week, he defended striking workers who “don’t spit out their pacifiers for no reason”.







An empty Lime Street train station in Liverpool at rush hour during the ‘biggest train strike in 30 years’
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Passengers are stranded due to the disruption and face huge delays
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He said: “Such a strike only has to do with fair working conditions, this is not a quick decision.

“It’s not about people spitting out their pacifier and influencing a large percentage of the community for no reason.

“This goes back decades to the state of the rail network, there is now a cost of living crisis and people are trying to increase their net income.

“It’s something that’s been boiling over for 30 years.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the strikes could have a devastating impact on school children, who may have to travel to take GCSE and A Level exams, while festival-goers have had a headache to get to Glastonbury for its 50th anniversary.







Boris Johnson has condemned the strikes and warned they could wreak havoc on school children taking exams
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But Oluwarotimi Ajayi, a railway worker and national executive member of the RMT, said the disruption was justified as she took two buses to join the picket line at Paddington station in London.

He told the Mirror: “I’m striking for wages and working conditions. The government is trying to attack our jobs, our wages and our working conditions.

“They made it absolutely clear that our bosses shouldn’t have a decision about pay.

“It’s just not right that we get a slap in the face for all the good work we’ve done during the pandemic.

“The dates of the school exams were not known when the decision was made. It is up to us to get our message across to the government and make them understand that we will not accept any form of threat to jobs, wages and working conditions. We don’t want any redundancies either.







The pickets outside Bristol Temple Meads railway station as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union begin their nationwide strike
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“The strikes are in the best interests of the nation – everyone deserves a raise in the face of the cost of living crisis. Social security has gone up, it affects everyone – not just us.

“That’s why the RMT fights for the nation. A victory for the RMT is a victory for the nation and we must come together and win this battle against the government.

“The nation survived out there when they were all out there drinking alcohol and we didn’t deserve that. We want better for ourselves and our colleagues.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brits-stand-struggling-rail-staff-27290049 Despite delays, Brits are in the biggest strike in 33 years with struggling rail staff

Fry Electronics Team

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